Pilot Briefing

August 1, 1997

Paris air show

The Paris Air Show, traditionally a showcase for military and airline hardware, this year featured a number of developments on the general aviation front. The biggest news involved the record sale of new Cessna Citations to Executive Jets' NetJets fractional ownership fleet.

Socata introduces diesel engine at Paris

Among the piston-engine set, Socata Aircraft offered the most news at the Paris Air Show in mid-June. The talk of the show was the Morane Renault diesel engine.

Under development by Renault for Socata, the turbocharged engine has been mounted on a TB20 Trinidad in preparation for its first test flight, said Philippe Debrun, Socata's new chairman. Renault has put about 100 hours on an engine in a test cell and has hung a propeller on the test engine. In addition, a second engine was mounted on a mockup at the airshow. The new engine will be first certified as a 250-hp version by mid-1998. Certification on the Trinidad should be completed by the end of next year; at the same time, Socata hopes to certify 180- and 300-hp variants of the engine. The diesel engine, with its turbocharger, is about the same weight as the normally aspirated Lycoming IO-540 engine currently on the Trinidad.

Socata doesn't expect a great deal more speed out of the diesel-powered airplane, but it will reduce operating costs by boosting TBO to 3,000 hours and by burning jet fuel, which is far less expensive in Europe than avgas. In the future, the company will offer both Lycoming and Renault-powered versions of the airplanes, but they will be marketed under different names. — Thomas B. Haines

Unison seals BFGoodrich buy

Unison Industries announced the closing of its deal to purchase BFGoodrich's Aerospace Engine Electrical Systems Division. The move makes Unison, maker of Slick magnetos, the leading supplier of aircraft engine ignition systems.

BFG's division has plants in Norwich, New York, and Fort Worth, Texas. Unison maintains operations in Rockford, Illinois, and Jacksonville, Florida. The move increased Unison's employment from 600 to 1,100 and doubled sales to $125 million.

On the piston-engine side of the business, Unison says that it has shipped more than 600 SlickStarts since April. SlickStart boosts the spark of conventional magnetos to aid in engine starting. It currently retails for $350, although Unison officials hint that a price hike is likely after Oshkosh. — TBH

Executive Jet buys Cessna Citations

In what has become almost a monthly ritual, Executive Jet Chairman Richard Santulli announced the purchase of more airplanes.

In May it was Raytheon Hawker 800XPs. At the Paris Air Show in June it was more Cessna Citations. The latest buy of business jets comprised 50 Citation Excels for use in EJ's fractional ownership program, whereby owners can buy a portion of a business jet — enjoying the tax benefits of ownership plus guaranteed use of the airplanes without bearing all of the up-front expenses of complete ownership. First deliveries of the Excels are to begin in early 2000.

In addition, EJ increased the number of Citation Xs on order by six, to a total of 31. The purchase increases EJ's Citation fleet to more than 150.

When not writing checks for new Citations, Santulli is busy developing the European version of his fractional ownership program called NetJet Europe.

Beginning in October, customers in Europe will be able to fly Citation VIIs. Currently, the company operates only smaller Citation S/IIs in Europe. The biggest users of NetJet aircraft in Europe are not Europeans. Instead, they are Americans who either fly commercially to Europe and use NetJet airplanes to get around, or they fly their NetJet Gulfstreams to Europe and switch to a smaller airplane while there. Santulli plans to have Middle East and Asian operations in 12 months. — TBH

Cessna Citation owners have a new resource available to them in Europe. The company has purchased facilities from Euralair International at Paris' LeBourget Airport. The operation will be Cessna's first Citation Service Center outside the United States. Cessna has sold 332 of the business jets in Europe.

First Galaxy comes together

Officials of the Galaxy Aerospace Corporation announced that the wing-to-fuselage mating of the first Galaxy mid-size corporate jet had taken place.

The event, which took place on May 23, symbolizes the fast pace of the Galaxy's production program. Galaxy Aerospace was formed in January, and funds for the Galaxy development program were released at the same time. The design phase involving the 3,620-nm, 0.85 Mach intercontinental jet's structural, mechanical, electrical, and other systems has been completed, Galaxy says, and the first 20 engines — Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306As of 5,700 pounds of static thrust apiece — have been ordered.

Certification of the first Galaxy is expected in the fourth quarter of 1998. Delivery of the first airplane is set for early 1999. — Thomas A. Horne

Socata shows enhancements at Paris

Socata displayed a new larger cargo door to be offered as an option on the Trinidad. Current models have only a small triangular baggage door.

The new door encompasses the entire aft window on the left side of the fuselage and goes all the way to the baggage compartment floor, allowing easier loading. In addition, the Tobago now sports trailing-link landing gear, designed to smooth landings and take away one more excuse from pilots who plant the airplane too firmly on the runway.

The TBM 700 single-engine turboprop now has a pilot door available, in addition to the aft airstair door into the cabin. Next year, TBM 700s will come with a large cabin door instead of the narrow door now offered. Contact Socata at North Perry Airport, 7501 Pembroke Road, Pembroke Pines, FL 33023; telephone 954/964-6877, fax 954/964-0805. — TBH

Lufthansa Flight Training and Airline Training Center Arizona have purchased seven Piper Seneca V aircraft, with options for four additional airplanes. The first of the trainers will be delivered by The New Piper Aircraft in January. In addition, The New Piper Aircraft also announced sales of six Warrior IIIs and one Archer III to Cabair Group, owner of flying schools in six locations in England.

Gulfstream Shares G-V program debuts

Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and Executive Jet, Inc. announced the introduction of their new Gulfstream Shares G-V program at a June 16 press conference at the Paris Air Show.

The Gulfstream Shares G-V program will offer fractional ownership shares in Gulfstream's new, 6,500-nm G-V. This program joins the existing Gulfstream Shares G-IV-SP program. Initially, participants in the original Gulfstream Shares program will have the option of buying shares in G-Vs. In the Gulfstream Shares program, Gulfstream provides G-IV-SPs and G-Vs, as well as maintenance and technical support, and Executive Jet is in charge of scheduling, customer service, and flight operations.

In a related development, Gulfstream Chairman Theodore J. Forstmann also announced that he had signed a memorandum of understanding to extend the Gulfstream Shares program to operations in the Middle East. Executive Jet Chairman Richard Santulli likewise took the opportunity to articulate plans to expand his NetJets fractional ownership to the Middle East.

Forstmann and Santulli see the moves into the European and Middle Eastern markets as the first steps in establishing a global fractional ownership network. — TAH

The U.S. Air Force has agreed to purchase two Gulfstream G-V business jets to add to its Special Air Mission Wing unit, part of the 89th Airlift Wing based at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The unit provides transportation for the president, members of Congress and their aides, visiting heads of state, and other government leaders. The Air Force has options for four more of the long-range aircraft. The total contract is valued at $275 million.

Learjet 60 claims record

Bombardier Business Aircraft kicked off the Paris International Air Show with a record flight of a Learjet 60 business jet between Pittsburgh and Le Bourget Airport, Paris.

The aircraft covered the distance of 3,452 nautical miles in 8 hours and 1 minute, including one 16-minute refueling stop at Gander, Newfoundland. Flying time was 7 hours and 45 minutes. The average speed for the flight was 437.18 knots or 503.1 miles an hour.

The Learjet 60's record still must be ratified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and the National Aeronautic Association. An FAI representative was on site in Paris to record the official time of arrival. The business jet was certified in 1993.

The record will be verified soon.

Bombardier's Business Aircraft Division indicated that the new Lear 45 business jet should receive FAA certification this month, and JAA certification in October.

This represents a one-month slippage from pronouncements made earlier this year. The airplane's basic empty weight has increased by 500 pounds over earlier specifications, a spokesman said, but recent flight tests have opened the 45's speed envelope to 380 KCAS, or 0.87 Mach.

Function and reliability, avionics, and stability and control tests remain to be accomplished. Bombardier says that performance guarantees will be met and that — with its 14,000-pound payload — the 45 will retain a significant payload/full fuel advantage over the competition, with 7,000- to 8,000-pound payloads under the same conditions. — TAH

Bombardier considers a mid-size jet

Bombardier Business Aircraft Division President Michael Graf says that his division is considering the development of a new super mid-size business jet, something to bridge the gap between the Lear 60 and the Canadair Challenger 604.

"We've been looking at our competitive situation in the marketplace for the past 3 months, trying to understand our customers' requirements for this kind of airplane," he said. Although the mid-size market may seem crowded, Graf still sees plenty of opportunity for another mid-size jet to succeed.

He indicated that Bombardier's mid-size airplane would be principally all-metal in construction, and possibly a derivative design of the Learjet 45. — TAH

Twenty different customers have ponied up deposits for 29 Bell Boeing tiltrotor aircraft. The customers represent a broad range of missions, including scheduled airline service, executive transport, offshore oil support, and emergency medical services. The 609 tiltrotor will cruise at 275 knots and is expected to have a max range of 759 nm flying behind a pair of 1,850-shaft-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C engines.

Williams V-Jet II to appear at Oshkosh

Williams International will exhibit its all-composite twin-engine V-Jet II light aircraft at the EAA Fly-in and Convention.

During early testing, the five- to six-place, 3,800-pound aircraft has achieved 295 knots at 30,000 feet. The aircraft currently is powered by Williams FJX-1 small turbofan engines, but in 2 years those will be replaced by high-bypass-ratio Williams FJX-2 engines with 700 pounds of thrust.

The engines are under development through a cooperative agreement with NASA under a research program aimed at revitalizing the general aviation industry. Not intended for production, the forward-swept-wing V-Jet II was designed by Sam Williams to demonstrate the new engines. Several early designs were made over the past few years by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites organization, and three full-scale mock-ups were completed. Thus, the V-Jet II is a refined design. "I believe every light-aircraft pilot dreams of being a jet pilot," Williams said. "This low-cost turbofan technology can make that a reality."

New Meyers gets new name

The former New Meyers Aircraft Company of Ft. Pierce, Florida, which lost the rights to the name in a legal battle with the Meyers Aircraft Company near San Antonio, Texas, has a new name. The Seminole Indian tribe, which owns the company, has named it Micco Aircraft, the same name as the son of the tribe's chairman, James Billie.

It is a Creek Indian word, one of two dialects still spoken by a few of the Seminoles, which according to a Seminole linguist means "chief." The Texas company, headed by Paul Whetstone, owns rights to the Meyers 200, while the Florida company owns rights to the Meyers 145A.

Women may apply for one of six helicopter training scholarships available from the Whirly-Girls by writing to Charlotte Kelley, President, Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund, Executive Towers 10-D, 207 West Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85013; telephone 602/263-0190. The application deadline is November 15. Kelley was the group's twenty-first member.

Infusion revives Jetcruzer hopes

Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures, Inc. (AASI) has received an $8 million industrial development bond from the State of California to build a new production facility at the Long Beach Airport for its Jetcruzer 500.

AASI has plans for a 200,000-square-foot factory to be completed by the first quarter of 1998. In December, AASI had received $32 million from a public offering. AASI, which had certified the canard pusher Jetcruzer 450 in 1994 but never put it into production, is now working solely on the 500, a stretched and pressurized iteration of the 450. AASI says that it will not have to recertify the 500; it will simply require amendments to the 450's FAR Part 23 type certificate.

AASI claims that the turboprop will have a max cruise speed of 320 knots when propelled by its 850-shaft-horsepower Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66A engine and five-blade Hartzell propeller. Currently the Jetcruzer 500's price is set at $1.3 million for the first 50 aircraft. AASI says it has 30 orders for the Jetcruzer.

Third Firefly T-3A crash kills two

A British-built Slingsby Firefly T-3A, a two-seater used by the U.S. Air Force as a flight applicant screener, crashed and burned at Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 25.

It was operated by the U.S. Air Force Academy located near Colorado Springs. The two killed, an instructor and a cadet, bring the total flight crew loss in T-3A accidents to six.

Previous crashes include an apparent stall-spin accident, and a simulated engine-out emergency in which the engine quit and could not be restarted. The Air Force tested the T-3A after the engine-out accident to determine whether the engine was susceptible to in-flight stoppage, but did not test the stall-spin characteristics of the aircraft.

Northwest Aerobatics Center in Euphrata, Washington, has become the worldwide distributor for sport aircraft designed by the Yakovlev Design Bureau in Russia. Shown is a $160,000 Yak 54, a two-place, all-aluminum 360-horsepower aircraft. It is stressed for plus 9 and minus 7 Gs when flown solo. Built at the Saratov Aviation Plant near Moscow, the aircraft is designed for Unlimited category competition and for airshows. Call 509/754-1922 for more information.

Lindbergh photos and documents sought

Aviation historian Ev Cassagneres, in his twenty-eighth year of research into the life of Charles A. Lindbergh, needs your help to finish his book on Lindbergh.

This May marked the seventieth anniversary of Lindbergh's historic flight. In the summer of 1927, The Spirit of St. Louis flew on a 3-month promotional air tour of the United States — beginning on July 20 from Long Island, New York, and returning there some 82 stops, 22,000 miles, and 260.7 flying hours later, on October 23.

Cassagneres is seeking photographs, personal recollections, and newspaper clippings from every stop Lindbergh made on any of his three goodwill tours, which included visits to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Cuba, and the Caribbean. Information may be sent to Cassagneres at 430 Budding Ridge, Cheshire, Connecticut 06410; telephone 203/272-2127. — Michael P. Collins

Leo Loudenslager injured in motorcycle accident; partial paralaysis a concern

Airshow star and aerobatic champion Leo Loudenslager was in critical condition in a Nashville hospital at press time, with injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.

"The whole airshow community is completely devastated," said John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows. ICAS has, in past years, awarded Loudenslager the Art Scholl Showmanship Award as the top airshow performer in the nation.

Two days after the June 24 accident doctors were assessing whether Loudenslager will be paralyzed from the waist down. He suffered a severed spine and numerous broken bones. Early indications were that he was hit head-on by a car that crossed the center line. The car was masked until the last moment by a van in front of Loudenslager.

Seven-time national aerobatic champion and world champion in 1980, Loudenslager is recognized as a dedicated airshow professional.

Aerocomp de Mexico of Tehuacan, Mexico, a subsidiary of VIA Inc. in Merritt Island, Florida, has begun certification testing of its AC6 Camion, a spinoff of the American-made Aerocomp composite kit aircraft. The Camion is a six-place composite STOL aircraft powered by a 300-horsepower Continental IO-520 or 310-hp turbocharged TSIO-520 and is targeted as a replacement for aging Cessna 206s. Aerocomp de Mexico expects Mexican certification this year. For information, contact VIA at 407/453-0707.

Jeffrey Ethell dies in P-38 crash

Warbird expert, aviation author, and accomplished pilot Jeffrey Ethell was killed in the June 6 crash of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning near Tillamook Airport in Oregon. Ethell was flying the restored World War II fighter for a reunion of P-38 pilots that took place at a museum on the field.

Ethell wrote or coauthored 59 books; many were about warbirds and contemporary military aircraft, but some addressed general aviation topics. He wrote more than 1,000 magazine articles and appeared on dozens of videotapes and television programs, including the "Roaring Glory" warbird video series that he hosted.

Mechanical failure is thought to have caused the crash, according to Ethell's son David. Witnesses reported that the Lightning's engines were cutting in and out when the airplane was on a 5- or 6-mile final approach to the Tillamook runway. Both propellers apparently were feathered when Ethell tried to land in treetops; the P-38 may have stalled before it nosed through the trees and crashed in a near-vertical attitude. — MPC

GA aircraft continue to rise in value

First-quarter figures compiled by the Aircraft Bluebook-Price Digest show the value of used aircraft continuing to rise.

The Bluebook tracks 36 "benchmark" aircraft varying in type from singles to jets, including helicopters. It has discovered that used GA aircraft have maintained an "unbroken upswing in values for 14 continuous quarters." Most recently, the multiengine piston aircraft segment has been pulling a lot of weight, with an increase in value of 2.5 percent for the quarter. Beech Barons, Cessna 340 and 400 series, and Shrike Commander airplanes were the real movers in this segment, providing the bulk of the growth in value.

The single-engine segment rose only 0.6 percent and may signify a slowing of the upward trend. Beech Bonanzas; Cessna 180s, 206s, and 207s; early Mooney 201s and 231s; Piper Comanche 180/250s, Cherokee Six, and Cherokee 235s saw increases in values.

Squawk Sheet

Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) has issued critical service bulletin (CSB) 97-10 regarding abnormal wear of aluminum piston pin plugs of its new manganese phosphate-coated cylinders installed in Continental opposed-cylinder engines. The bulk of these cylinders have been shipped since February 15 and have part numbers beginning with the numbers 654. However, suspect cylinders have been installed on factory new Raytheon Beech Bonanzas and Barons since August 1996. TCM believes that only a small number of the coated cylinders would cause accelerated piston pin plug wear. Regardless, the CSB recommends that within the next 10 hours time in service, owners of E-series and 470-series engines remove the cylinders and return them to TCM under warranty. IO-240 through IO-550 series engines are subject to oil analysis and borescope inspections. For more detailed information, obtain a copy of the bulletin through AOPA Online (www.aopa.org) .

Hartzell service bulletin 61-217, applicable to all Hartzell X or V two- and three-blade propellers, is likely to become an airworthiness directive by press time. Incidents of blade cracking on propellers already subject to the dye-penetrant inspection of a previous AD prompted this rule. Expect shorter inspection intervals and lower TBOs on affected propellers.

National Weather Service chief fired

On June 25, Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, under pressure from Congress, removed National Weather Service chief Elbert J. (Joe) Friday, Jr. from his position. Friday accepted an offer the next day for the directorship of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, a position that a Commerce spokesman said was equal to Friday's former post at NWS. Under federal rules, he had 5 days to accept a transfer or leave government service.

At the time that the removal was announced, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Under Secretary James Baker said that the planned closing of the NWS Southern Region Headquarters in the Dallas/Fort Worth area has been delayed. NWS is a branch of NOAA. Baker also hinted to The Washington Post that there had been pressure from Congress for the change.

A Commerce department spokeswoman said that the pressure came from the Senate.

Baker, head of NOAA, said that he had received conflicting information from Friday in the last several months over how best to deliver essential weather services while reducing the NWS budget. Friday said he was mystified by that comment and had never had a chance to talk to Daley before the removal was announced.

A GPS local area augmentation system will be installed and evaluated at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, providing precision landing guidance to aircraft within 20 to 30 nautical miles of the airport. The system will be provided by Raytheon Aircraft Montek Company of Salt Lake City. Attendees at the 1997 EAA Fly-in and Convention will see the newly installed system, slated to be certified later this year.

The technology education class of C.E. McCall Middle School in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, is learning about general aviation from a Piper Tomahawk that was damaged and stripped of parts. Since kids can't get through airport security fences these days to see the aircraft, teacher Harry Boyer brought the airplane to them with the help of 16 corporate sponsors. The aircraft's flight controls have been linked to a PC-based flight simulator; the end result is realistic training. Each year 130 students practice simulated flight in the Tomahawk and later take a real flight.

AOPA members in the news

Eric Whyte, AOPA 1163091, of St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, has won the school aviation department's Excellence in Aviation award and the Rowland Anderson Memorial Award presented by the school's Aero Club. The latter award is based on involvement in the aviation program, progress in flight training, and academic performance.

David Blanton, AOPA 059098, has received the ultimate compliment for his career in aviation. He has been called back to work, at age 72, because there is no other engineer who can convert a Cessna Citation into a water tanker for flight tests of a Lockheed Martin C-130J. Blanton, a former military pilot, inventor, and businessman, designed the BD-2 and BD-4 aircraft for Bede Aircraft of Cleveland. He has recovered from a heart attack and undergone chemotherapy for cancer in recent years. "My retirement lasted 1 day. I was proud that Lockheed Martin needed me, and I got out of bed and went to work."

William A. DuFour, AOPA 934236, of Stafford, Virginia, was killed while ferrying an Ayres Thrush to Panama. DuFour owned AAir Transport Command, a service that ferried airplanes throughout the world. DuFour is survived by his wife, Kelly, and two children. A fund has been set up to assist DuFour's family; write Kelly DuFour Assistance Fund, 290 Garrisonville Road, Stafford, Virginia 22554.

Robert Hawkins, AOPA 276019, of Arlington, Virginia, has been selected to receive the Baltimore FSDO's Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year Award. Hawkins is a 30-year veteran of the Civil Air Patrol.

William White, AOPA 1173768, of North Logan, Utah, has published The Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails by Air: A Pilot's Guide to the Immigrant Trails. To obtain a copy, contact Western Airtrails at 888/755-0330.

Bill, AOPA 1015927; Rob, AOPA 1080311; and Pete Bedell, AOPA 1136339, brothers from Maryland copiloting a Beech D55 Baron, won the Marion Jayne U.S. Air Race in early June. Their speed averaged 227 mph on the abbreviated race route from Hutchinson, Kansas, to Bowling Green, Kentucky, via Atchison, Kansas, and Farmington, Missouri. The VFR-only race was shortened because of weather, eliminating two legs on each end of the race, which was to begin in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and finish in Monroe, North Carolina. The prize for first place was a trophy and $5,000. Pete is an associate editor for AOPA Pilot.

Patricia W. Andrews, AOPA 114785, the manager of global aircraft services for Mobil Business Resources Corporation and organizer of the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) Fatigue Countermeasures Task Force, has received the FSF President's Citation for Outstanding Achievement in Safety Leadership. Her work is aimed at aiding pilots of long-haul corporate aircraft. The Flight Safety Foundation, located in Alexandria, Virginia, is not related to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.

Dick Smith, AOPA 1065210, former president of AOPA-Australia, has been named deputy chairman of that country's Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The organization is the equivalent of the FAA in the United States.

Edward D. Mendenhall, AOPA 1174636, director of flight operations for Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, has received the Flight Safety Foundation's Admiral Luis de Florez Flight Safety Award for work in reducing controlled-flight-into-terrain accidents.

David Oreck, AOPA 1333931, and Frank Ryder Airshows have purchased a one-of-a-kind Steven F. Wolf Cyclone for the current airshow season and dubbed it the Oreck XL. The Oreck Corporation, a New Orleans-based vacuum cleaner company, is a sponsor of Frank Ryder Airshows. The 550-horsepower aircraft is stressed for plus or minus 20 Gs and climbs at 5,000 feet per minute. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-985, the tandem-seat aircraft has an empty weight of 2,008 pounds and a roll rate of 300 deg/sec. It looks like a 1930s airplane but uses modern carbon fiber construction. Wolf, of Creswell, Oregon, also built the Gee Bee seen on the airshow circuit, and Sampson, a powerful biplane flown in airshows by Bobby Younkin. The Oreck XL is a monoplane version of the Sampson.