Pilot Briefing

April 1, 1998

Turboprop builds impressive backlog

Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures, Inc. (AASI), the developer of the Jetcruzer single-engine pusher turboprop, has garnered some impressive order numbers early this year. In fact, the Long Beach, California, company sold more than one of the $1.3 million aircraft per day from mid-January to mid-February.

Thirty-one nonrefundable $10,000 deposits have been collected since January 12, giving the company a total of 117 orders worth some $140 million. Certification of the Jetcruzer 500 is expected this summer, with deliveries expected to begin this fall.

The Jetcruzer 500 is a six-place, 320-knot pressurized turboprop powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT-6 850-shaft horsepower engine. The airplane is a stretched version of the unpressurized, 500-shp Jetcruzer 450, which was certificated in June 1994 but was never put into production. The Model 500 will be approved under an amendment to the 450's type certificate. — Thomas B. Haines

Commander Aircraft Company has developed a long-range version of the Commander 114B. The aircraft incorporates the Commander 114TC wing, which carries 90 gallons of fuel (88 usable). The company claims a range of 855 nautical miles at 75-percent power with a 45-minute reserve.

Flight testing elicits change to VisionAire Vantage

Flight tests of the prototype aircraft have resulted in several refinements to the VisionAire Vantage single-engine business jet, and a predicted range increase.

A four-inch fuselage stretch ahead of the aircraft's forward-swept wings will be used to accommodate various systems. The horizontal tail area will be increased by 26 percent to 76 square feet, while the dihedral on the wing will increase to 5.8 degrees, up from the original 3.8 degrees.

A new design for the nose and main landing gear will be created. Independently actuated main landing gear doors will operate as speed brakes for the aircraft. The width of the windshield posts will be reduced, the rudder will be reduced in size, and the angle of the tailpipe for the Vantage's Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5 engine will be decreased one degree.

Range will increase 10 percent. VisionAire is constructing two additional aircraft to be used in certification testing.

Notice of annual meeting of members

The annual meeting of the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and AOPA Legislative Action will take place at 12 noon on Saturday, May 9, 1998, at Wings Field in Ambler, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of receiving reports and transacting such other business as may properly come before the meeting, including the election of trustees. The meeting will consider an amendment to the Association's bylaws that would eliminate the offices of vice president as officers of the Association. — John S. Yodice, secretary

GAMA proclaims 1997 'a banner year'

Ed Bolen, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), proclaimed 1997 "a banner year for the general aviation industry" at a Washington, D.C., press conference in February.

Bolen cited 1997 as the industry's all-time record year for billings, which rang in at $4.7 billion, compared to $3.1 billion in 1996. At 1,569 units, last year also boasted the largest number of new-aircraft shipments since 1985. Thanks to Cessna's reintroduction of the 172 and 182, single-engine piston airplane sales were up 71 percent. Meanwhile, jet sales were up 44 percent. Only the turboprop market faltered, compared to 1996, by falling 18.3 percent. Bolen expects 1998 to be another bullish year, unseating records set last year.

Also speaking at the conference was GAMA Chairman Art Wegner, who cited the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 and a robust economy as two of several reasons for this turnaround of general aviation. Wegner also acknowledged the phenomenal growth of fractional ownership programs.

The Clinton administration's budget and its call for user fees also gathered much attention at the conference. Wegner stressed the need to fend off user fees and encouraged the attendees to "put funding issues behind us and move towards the modernization of the national airspace system."

Used market flourishes as well

Prices for used aircraft continue to rise, according to publishers of the Aircraft Bluebook-Price Digest. The company tracks 36 "benchmark" aircraft of several categories, from piston-powered helicopters through large corporate jets, in order to gauge used aircraft market strength.

Single-engine aircraft that moved up significantly were the Piper Comanche 260, 1970s-vintage Commander 114s, and late-model Lake amphibians. Multiengine movers in the piston category were Cessna 414As, Aerostar 602Ps, and the Twin Commander 500B, U, and S models. Overall, the gainers in the piston twin market outnumbered the losers by a four-to-one ratio.

Jet aircraft led the used-market charge with the biggest gains in history. Top performers were Canadair Challengers; Falcon 20s, 50s, and 200s; early Astras; Hawker 700s; and early Gulfstream IIIs. Turboprops performed well, too, with Beech King Airs, Twin Commander 690s, and Gulfstream Is posting sizable gains.

Bluebook says that most dealers and brokers expect this upward trend to continue through 1998.

Changes to NOAA approach charts delayed

Three years ago, aviation safety experts met with officials of the government's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to ask for help; cluttered approach charts were contributing to accidents, according to industry and government officials. An FAA-funded joint government/industry study led to what is now called the Volpe format, which was adapted for use on Jeppesen's recently revised approach charts. Jeppesen was involved in the study.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also wants to adapt the Volpe format to approach charts published by the National Ocean Service. Examples of the new government charts have been shown at aviation safety meetings in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.

However, FAA air traffic control managers added a suggestion to publish terrain elevations and other data in the plan view of the approach. NOAA has tried to accommodate those suggestions in its latest prototype charts, but the result is rather cluttered. Elevation numbers, coupled with latitude and longitude information needed for future GPS approach fixes, led some to call one new approach chart prototype an "ugly baby." In fact, that is the informal name for the chart committee within NOAA.

More committee meetings and further consultation with the FAA and the Volpe Center will be required before it is decided whether government approach charts will begin to look more like those published by Jeppesen, will become ugly babies, or will remain the same. The final decision could take a few months.

Boeing Capital Corporation of Long Beach, California, is providing the lease financing package for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's (ERAU) purchase of 61 new Cessna 172s over a three-year period. ERAU last year announced a sales contract for some 300 Cessna aircraft over a 12-year period. Boeing Capital was formerly the McDonnell Douglas Finance Corporation until the buyout of MDD by Boeing.

U.S. Aerobatic Team member Kirby Chambliss and fellow team members are preparing for world competition in Slovakia in August. Team members are working with special trainers three to four days a month, three times a day, pulling in excess of seven Gs on each flight. A total of 90 pilots from 20 countries are expected at the Olympics-style competition. Follow their activities on the Web ( www.usaf-aerobatics.org).

Bell takes over much of Boeing helicopter line

Consolidation of the U.S. civil helicopter market is afoot, with Bell Helicopter taking over complete ownership of the Bell Boeing 609 tiltrotor program and becoming owner of most of the Boeing line of civil helicopters.

Boeing announced in early February that it was interested in getting out of the civil helo market in order to concentrate on its airliner business. It will maintain its military helo operations, including the Bell partnership on the V22 military tiltrotor. At a press conference at Heli-Expo '98, the annual convention of the Helicopter Association International, Bell President and CEO Terry Stinson said that it did not need a risk-sharing partner to replace Boeing on the 609 civil tiltrotor, but that partners who brought the right capabilities to the project would be welcome.

Boeing will continue as a member of the 609 project, but only as a vendor. Bell, which owned 51 percent of the program, has more than 60 "sales commitments" for the 609. At the time, Stinson's company was concluding discussions with Boeing about acquiring the airline manufacturer's civil helicopter line, which includes former McDonnell Douglas products. Boeing and McDonnell Douglas merged last year. — TBH

Frequent AOPA Pilot contributor William K. Kershner and former AOPA President John L. Baker have been named Elder Statesmen of Aviation by the National Aeronautic Association. The witty Kershner has published numerous flight manuals with Iowa State University Press. Baker headed AOPA from 1978 to 1990.

Executive Jet Management, of Cincinnati, expects to hire 15 more pilots for its charter management and on-demand charter operations. The company has 79 pilots on the roster. Applicants must have an ATP certificate, 2,500 hours of total time, and 500 hours of multiengine time. For information, call 513/871-7310.

British Airways will bring one of its supersonic Concordes to the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture Oshkosh '98. The Concorde, which last appeared at Oshkosh in 1994, is scheduled to touch down on Friday, July 31, and depart on August 3. It will be displayed on the airport's west ramp. Local subsonic rides will be offered on Saturday and Sunday for $715. For information on the local flights, call 800/634-2153.

Cessna Aircraft Company has dedicated a new Citation Service Center at Le Bourget Airport, near Paris. Cessna acquired the facility in June 1997 and recently completed extensive renovations and modernization.

The Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has completed an eight-year restoration of a Waco CG-4A cargo glider, most often associated with the Normandy landings in World War II. Remarkably, the glider could carry a small bulldozer or tank. A glider exhibit will be dedicated on June 6. The museum can be reached at 616/382-6555.

The New Piper Aircraft has received an order for 16 Archer IIIs from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Institute of Aviation. The aircraft will be equipped with IFR-approved GPS receivers. It is the largest single training aircraft order since New Piper's reorganization.

Anthony W. LeVier, the former test pilot at the nation's most secret aircraft development facility — the Lockheed Skunk Works in Palmdale, California — has died at age 84. While he also tested some of the most famous aircraft of World War II and later, including the P-38 Lightning and the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, he was an innovator as well. He is credited with developing the first afterburner system for jet fighters.

Bombardier Aerospace set a company sales record in 1997 with firm orders for 204 regional aircraft and a 42-percent share of the 20- to 90-seat world regional aircraft market.

Zivko Aeronautics of Guthrie, Oklahoma, best known for its Edge aerobatic aircraft, has a contract from the U.S. Navy to develop advanced oceanographic and atmospheric sampling systems for use in manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. The instrumentation system has been integrated into this highly modified Cessna Skymaster for testing.

AirCell given green light

AirCell, Inc., the Colorado company that developed a method to adapt existing cellular systems for air-to-ground communications and attracted the wary eye of major cellular companies in the process, has received Federal Communications Commission approval to continue with operations under its experimental authority.

AirCell had been "frozen" by the FCC since May 1997 because of allegations by GTE, Bell South, and AT&T that the system posed potential interference with ground-based cell phones. The FCC released AirCell from the freeze after the test data showed that AirCell does not cause harmful interference. AirCell's mobile telephones are designed for use by general aviation aircraft for voice and data services.

The FCC also increased the maximum permitted number of test units from 250 to 1,800. (At press time, AirCell expected to be released from the 1,800 limit this spring.) The $6,995 telephone is marketed through Trimble. For more information, contact AirCell, Inc., 1172 Century Drive, Suite 280, Louisville, Colorado 80027; telephone 303/379-0230.

Mooney Aircraft Corporation has extended a financing program for Mooney Encores delivered by May 15. The program offers no payments and no accrued interest for one year. Purchasers must make a 10-percent down payment. The program is based on the manufacturer's suggested retail price. The 220-hp Encore cruises at more than 200 knots.

Adventure Air Racing has scheduled a handicapped cross-country air race to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on September 4 through 6. The starting point for the 550-nm multistop race will be the Concord (North Carolina) Regional Airport. For more information or for an entry kit, telephone 704/793-9000.

The second annual Mustang Roundup will take place on May 9 and 10 at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The event features a dozen of the famous World War II aircraft. For further information, call Bob Luikens at 612/941-1212.

Squawk Sheet

The FAA has proposed an airworthiness directive aimed at some 20,000 AlliedSignal Bendix/King KT76A transponders to remedy reports of these transponders' transmitting erroneous altitude information to ATC as well as to airborne traffic alert and collision avoidance systems installed on other aircraft. The proposed AD would require replacement of two resistor-network modules with glass-coated modules. "Silver migration on the substrate of a resistor network that is connected to the Gilham Altitude outputs of an external encoding altimeter" was published in the Federal Register as the cause of the error. AlliedSignal will pay for the parts required for the fix; however, according to the Federal Register, the owner will have to swallow the labor costs, which are estimated to be $120 per airplane. A copy of this proposed AD is available on AOPA Online on the Web.

The FAA has published two proposed airworthiness directives that would require replacing piston pins installed in thousands of Lycoming and Continental engines. NPRM 97-ANE-42 covers Lycoming O-320, O(L)-360, IO(L)-360, I(GS)O(L)-540, and IO-720 series engines. NPRM 97-ANE-37 affects Continental (L)(TS)IO-360 engines. According to the proposed rules, piston pins shipped from Superior Air Parts may contain subsurface manufacturing imperfections leading to fatigue cracks and eventual failure. For the affected Lycoming engines, the defective piston pins were shipped between August 24, 1993, and April 22, 1996. For the Continentals the defective pins were shipped between August 1, 1994, and June 20, 1996. A copy of these proposed ADs is available on AOPA Online.

An airworthiness directive 98-03-16 has been issued against the Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk that will require repetitively replacing the upper rudder hinge bracket with a bracket that is life-limited and of an improved design.

Two ADs affecting the aerobatic Extra 300S and 300 aircraft have been issued. AD 98-04-01 applies to certain EA-300S airplanes. This AD requires modifying the canopy latches or replacing the canopy latches with parts of improved design. The actions specified by this AD are intended to prevent in-flight failure of the canopy because of cracked canopy latches, which could result in loss of the canopy and possible loss of control of the airplane. AD 98-03-14 affects EA-300 and EA-300/S Airplanes. This AD requires inspecting the upper longeron cutout bridge for cracks, repairing any cracks found, and modifying this area. The actions specified by this AD are intended to prevent structural damage to the fuselage caused by cracks in the upper longeron cutout bridge, which, if not detected and corrected, could result in loss of control of the airplane.

Links to the full text of ADs can be found on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/pilot/links.shtml).

The San Diego Aerospace Museum was to name new inductees into its International Aerospace Hall of Fame in March. They are brothers Horace, Eustace, and Oswald Short; Richard Whitcomb; Andre Turcat; and Brian Trubshaw. The Short brothers built balloons in 1897 and became one of the first manufacturers of the Wright Flyer. They later built land- and seaplanes of their own design, including the Sunderland anti-submarine flying boat. Trubshaw and Turcat developed and evaluated supersonic transport aircraft; their work led to the Concorde now in use. Whitcomb developed three design concepts important to transonic, supersonic, and high subsonic flight: the area ruling, the supercritical wing, and winglets.

AOPA members in the news

Stephen P. Coonts, AOPA 1056593, writer of best-seller books and frequent contributor to AOPA Pilot, has written a new novel, Fortunes of War, published by St. Martin's Press and available in bookstores everywhere in May. As usual, the novel offers realistic details of the latest military fighters.

Dave Freudenberg, AOPA 1208394, has received an award for witnessing the crash landing of an aircraft carrying $15 million to $20 million worth of cocaine 25 miles west of Boca Raton, Florida, in December 1997. Flying at the time, he circled the site for 30 minutes until authorities arrived. Freudenberg, president of the Boca Raton Pilots Association, used his newfound celebrity to urge that a tower be built at Boca Raton Airport.

John Eckalbar, AOPA 794605, has written Flying the Beech Bonanza, required reading for any Bonanza pilot. The 202-page hardcover book costs $38.50, but he has created a softcover book, selling for $19.95, that is available only to flight instructors. Want to make the perfect approach in a Bonanza? He also offers a videotape, IFR by the Numbers, for $48.50. Not a Bonanza pilot? He also has a book on flying more generic high-performance singles and twins. For information, write to Skyroad Projects, 41 Crow Canyon Court, Chico, California 95928; telephone 530/343-6791; e-mail jeckalbar@aol.com.

Sheri Coin Marshall, AOPA 1173327, of Benton, Kentucky, was awarded Flight Instructor of the Year for the FAA's Southern Region, as well as Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, by the FAA Flight Standards District Office in Louisville. Marshall is an airline transport pilot and CFI who has written a book titled One Can Do It, an account of Marshall's achieving her goals despite being a right-arm amputee.

Mary Harmon Moman, AOPA 1349170, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was recently featured on the front page of the Tuscaloosa News. She won a 14-year battle to obtain her pilot certificate despite her being diagnosed with Type I diabetes.

Doug Allen, AOPA 611636, of St. Peters, Missouri, was recently named Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year by the FAA's St. Louis Flight Standards District Office. Allen is president of the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association.

Joe Schneider, AOPA 232681, of Oklahoma City, was featured in the February issue of the Knights of Columbus' Columbia magazine for being an active pilot. He is 94.

Van Alstine, AOPA 1316703, of Owosso, Michigan, was featured in an Associated Press story, which ran in several newspapers across the country, for his use of a Beech Baron in commuting to and from classes in Chicago to obtain his master's degree in business administration.

Fred DeLacerda, AOPA 809923, of Stillwater, Oklahoma, was named Master CFI by the National Association of Flight Instructors. Fred is an aerobatics instructor who has recently been flying an Extra 200.

Peter Williams, AOPA 1093215, of Gardnerville, Nevada, has published Self-Launch! Retractable Engine Sailplanes, a 140-page book about buying, flying, and maintaining self-launching sailplanes. For more information, contact the publisher, For The Birds, at 702/265-3877.

Pete Barrett, AOPA 882020, of Lenexa, Kansas, along with his wife, Sheila, have released a new video, titled Connie Flight Deck, a 35-minute video that takes the viewer on a ride in Save-A-Connie's Lockheed Super G Constellation. The video is available from Barrett Enterprises (888/484-3988) for $24.95 plus $3.50 shipping. A portion of proceeds goes to Save-A-Connie.

Maxfield L. Tuttle, AOPA 001985, of Whiting, New Jersey, died of cancer recently at the age of 86. Tuttle was a charter member of AOPA who flew for more than 60 years and distributed more than 170 AOPA First Flight Certificates.

Robinson Helicopter Company has delivered three R44 Newscopters to various organizations. The helicopters will be used by a radio station in Jackson, Mississippi; a television station in Cleveland; and a California company that broadcasts from airshows.

Under an experimental FAA program, 11 airlines are testing 13 new GPS navigation routes to the Caribbean and South America. The routes are flown at or above 28,000 feet with radar coverage and are controlled by Miami Center. General aviation pilots wishing to participate may write to Miami Center, Operations Office, 7508 Northwest 58th Street, Miami, Florida 33166. A final decision on making the routes permanent will be made this summer.

The prestigious Collier Trophy has been awarded by the National Aeronautic Association to Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and the Gulfstream V industry team. The award honors the group for applying advance design and efficient manufacturing techniques, and putting together an innovative international business partnership.

Edo Float Manufacturing, the company bought recently by cellular telephone pioneer and aviation enthusiast Craig O. McCaw, has been purchased by Kenmore Air Harbor, of Seattle, and will continue to operate as Edo Floats. The famous floats have been used by aviation pioneers since 1925. Eric Johnson, the newly named president of Edo Floats, said that he is replenishing inventory and moving to control manufacturing costs as his first goals. For information, call 425/486-3224.