Pilot Briefing

May 1, 1999

Cirrus SR20 crash under investigation by FAA, NTSB

At press time, investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene of the crash of the first Cirrus SR20 off the production line. The four-place composite airplane crashed just south of the Duluth (Minnesota) International Airport and a few hundred yards from the Cirrus Design factory. The aircraft was destroyed in the March 23 accident, and Cirrus test pilot Scott Anderson, 33, the sole occupant, died in the hospital a few hours later.

According to Cirrus officials, the accident aircraft made its first flight on March 22. On March 23, Anderson was attempting to determine why the flight controls felt stiffer than those on the conforming prototypes that had been used for certification flight tests. To help define the problem, the springs that drive the SR20's aileron trim system were disconnected.

Anderson had flown all of the prototype SR20s in a similar configuration without problems. About five miles north of the airport, Anderson radioed that he had a problem and was returning to the airport. Two miles out he declared an emergency. Witnesses report that he made it to near the approach end of Runway 27 at Duluth. They believe he then attempted to go around and set up for a more stable approach. When a few hundred feet in the air, the aircraft rolled sharply left, plummeted into a prison yard near the airport, and struck a building.

This particular SR20 did not yet have the ballistic parachute installed. The rocket-fired parachute, designed to safely lower the aircraft to the ground in the event of a loss of control, is to be standard equipment on all SR20s, the first production aircraft to be so equipped. Cirrus officials said that the parachutes had not been received from the manufacturer at the time of the flight test.

Shortly before the accident, the company had been approved for $6 million in additional funding that could be leveraged to generate $15 million to ramp up production of the SR20, which was granted a type certificate last October. The company currently has more than 260 orders. The spokesman said he did not believe that the accident would jeopardize the funding. - Thomas B. Haines

Breitling Orbiter 3 topples world record

Hollywood got it wrong in the movie version of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. It doesn't take 80 days to circle the globe by balloon (and Verne's characters never used a balloon in the first place). Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard and English balloon instructor Brian Jones got it right. Their Breitling Orbiter 3 circled the world in 19 days and two hours. Piccard, a Swiss psychiatrist, is the son and grandson of pioneers who explored the upper atmosphere and the ocean depths.

It was their hope to land amid the pyramids in Egypt, but unfavorable winds required them to pick a remote desert site. The crew will receive $1 million in prize money from the Anheuser-Busch brewing company, half of which will go to a designated charity.

At first, the most difficult part of the journey was thought to be the crossing of China, where political leaders gave permission as long as the balloon did not stray above the twenty-sixth parallel. Masterful navigation from both ground crew and pilots accomplished that task. The real difficulties were encountered over the Pacific Ocean, where the pilots suffered from lower wind speeds than expected and had difficulty contacting meteorologists on the ground to discuss the problem.

More obstacles came as the cabin cooled too much, the crew had breathing difficulties over Central America, and the winds once again slowed, threatening the Atlantic Ocean crossing. Most of the trip was spent at between 30,000 and 35,000 feet, where wind speeds of up to 130 knots were expected. Instead, the crew saw speeds as low as 10 and 20 knots, exceeding 100 kt only on rare occasions.

AeroTiga final assembly set for move from Malaysia to Tallahassee, Florida

The AeroTiga, a $150,000 Swiss-designed two-seater capable of positive-G aerobatics, is expected to be produced in Tallahassee, Florida, starting in 2000. The production will be transferred from Malaysia to SME Aero, a branch of the Malaysian company, when the plant in Malaysia completes an order for the Malaysian military forces.

A sliding canopy protects the cockpit. The AeroTiga has windscreens that start at hip level and end over the crews' heads. The 160-horsepower Lycoming engine provides 125 knots at 65 percent power. First approved by the Swiss government in 1991, the aircraft has FAA Part 21 and 23 certification in both utility and aerobatic categories.

Only six of the aircraft will be available for the U.S. market this year because the Malaysian order must be filled first, but double or triple that number will be available in 2000. The first two have been received in Tallahassee and delivered to a flight training school there. Approved maneuvers include chandelles, spins, aileron rolls, loops, Immelmanns, hammerheads, Cuban eights, reverse Cuban eights, barrel rolls, and tail slides.

The ailerons, flaps, and rudder are interchangeable, as are the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The wing's hinged leading edge can be replaced in a half-hour. Control rods, not cables, actuate elevator, ailerons, and rudder.

Squawk Sheet

Proposed airworthiness directive 99-CE-01 would require the installation of reinforcement plates to the forward and aft wing-attach fittings on Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage airplanes built since January 1995. New Piper reported to the FAA the potential structural defect caused by the use of sheet steel that was below design strength standards. Approximately 185 airplanes on the U.S. registry are affected. Piper has agreed to pay for the parts, but the estimated 30 hours of labor will need to come from the owner or operator. If adopted, the AD must be complied with within 100 hours time in service.

AD 81-15-04 R1, which requires repetitive inspections for cracks at the elevator outboard hinge attachment of Piper PA-31 Navajos and Chieftains, has been superseded by AD 99-06-01, which requires repetitively inspecting the horizontal rear spar in the area of the outboard hinge attachment and the hinge bracket for cracks. If cracks are found or the airplane has reached 500 hours time in service since the inspection, the rear spar must be modified using Piper Kit 766-646.

New Piper (Piper) PA-23, -24, -28, -32, and -34 series airplanes utilizing Facet induction-air filters are targeted in AD 99-05-09, which would require replacement of the filters, which are made by Purolator. Filters produced from January 1997 through September 1998 are susceptible to cracking, splitting, crumbling, and deterioration that can obstruct or block the engine intake.

AD 99-05-13 affecting Raytheon (Beech) piston airplanes requires the installation of a placard on the fuel selector that warns of the no-flow condition that exists between the fuel selector detents. Raytheon will provide the placard, which can be installed by owners who hold at least a private pilot certificate.

Raytheon Aircraft has contracted with Ryder Integrated Logistics to provide parts inventory management and order fulfillment. Ryder will use a warehouse near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to house Beech, Hawker, and Raytheon airplane parts.

Raytheon has upgraded its Beech piston aircraft with new avionics and improved engines for the 1999 model year. New A36 and B36TC Bonanzas, as well as the Baron 58, will be delivered with AlliedSignal's Bendix/King Silver Crown Plus avionics. Raytheon and Continental also teamed up to create Special Edition engines, which feature several modifications to improve airflow and deliver smoother operation. Affixed to the new engines are Hartzell three-blade propellers with distinctive "tip art" and an increased TBO. For more information, see " A Star is Born," p. 68.

Scaled Technology Works, the Montrose, Colorado, firm that is to build the wings and empennage for the VisionAire Vantage jet, will produce interior panels for the Beech 1900D Executive aircraft. Ret Butler, Raytheon Aircraft Services business development manager, said that customers will have a choice of 12 to 18 seats in various executive seating arrangements. In addition to plush executive seats, the new interiors will include tables, refreshment bars, and entertainment centers. Later this year, Scaled Technology Works will be the location for certification of the production Proteus aircraft. The aircraft will be produced for Angel Technologies Corporation to deploy high-altitude, long-operation telecommunication networks.

RentalPlanes.com says that it now has nearly 1,100 aircraft listed on its online database. The RentalPlanes.com Web site ( www.rentalplanes.com) allows pilots to search for aircraft to rent based on certain criteria. The service is free to pilots and aircraft managers.

If you happen to be near Stuttgart, Germany, from September 3 through 5, you might want to take in one of the largest antique aircraft shows in Europe. The twentieth annual fly-in takes place at Hahnweide Airfield in Kirchheim-Teck, located 15 miles southeast of Stuttgart. Customs service and refueling are available, and radio service will be provided in both German and English. The show, called "Oldtimer Fliegertreffen Hahnweide," features both aircraft and gliders. For information e-mail oldtimer.wolfhirth@t-online.de, or write to Klaus Lassing, Marktstrasse 45, C-73230 Kirchheim-Teck, Germany; telephone 49-7021-979666.

No plans for a New Year's celebration?

Concorde Spirit Tours and Air France are offering an 11-day supersonic "Double Midnight" millennium tour to the public for $39,800 per person.

The luxury tour begins December 29, 1999, in Paris at the Sheraton Airport Hotel at Charles de Gaulle International. After sightseeing in Paris, a gala banquet, and New Year's celebration, guests board a chartered Air France Concorde, Millennium II, zip across the Atlantic Ocean - and back in time to ring in the New Year again in New York's Times Square. After a night at the JFK International Airport Hilton, Millennium II departs for a three-day stay in Hawaii. Next stop is Acapulco, Mexico, for three days, followed by a return to New York on January 7.

Economy-class airfare from the United States or Canada to Paris is included. Meals, hotels, and tours are also included. For more information contact Concorde Spirit Tours at 800/863-9376.

Engine Components Inc. (ECI), of San Antonio, Texas, has introduced replacement cylinders for Continental 520- and 550-series engines. The 520/550 cylinders are the third product in an expanding line of ECI's Classic Cast replacement cylinders. Available as a stud assembly for $760 or as a complete assembly for $1,060, Classic Cast jugs are offered with through-hardened Airmotive steel or ECI's own CermiNil nickel-coated barrels. For more information, call ECI at 800/324-2359 or 210/820-8101 or visit the Web site ( www.eci2fly.com).

Ten top flights of 1998 named

The National Aeronautic Association has named the 10 most memorable record flights of 1998. Unfortunately, the world record speed set in October by the AOPA Timeless Tri-Pacer of more than 106 knots from Phoenix nonstop to Palm Springs, California, was not on the list. Surely, there was some oversight.

Instead, the top 10 records are:

Remaining aloft for 14 hours and nine minutes to set a duration record by the Fuji blimp (James Gross, John McHugh, Kenneth Petschow, and Mark Pinsky);

246 skydivers leaping from 12 aircraft over Illinois to set a record for the largest formation of skydivers;

Piloting a piston-engine radio-controlled model airplane 808 statute miles over a Hagerstown, Maryland, racetrack to set a distance record for a closed circuit (Maynard S. Hill);

Flying 179 statute miles from New Mexico to Texas in a paraglider for a distance record (Will Gadd);

Flying a rigid-wing hang glider 251 statute miles from New Mexico to Texas for a distance record (Ramy Yanetz);

Flying a Boeing 747-400 from Taiwan to San Francisco at 698 mph for a speed record (Capt. R. Z. Blue and First Officer Edward R. Mieloch);

Flying a homebuilt autogyro to 24,463 feet for an altitude record (Bill Clem);

Flying an ultralight glider nonstop 315 statute miles from Kansas to Texas to set a distance record (Gary Osoba);

Flying at 67,188 feet over Edwards Air Force Base in a Lockheed Martin ER-2/U-2 to set a record for altitude in horizontal flight (James Barrilleaux); and

Flying a balloon nonstop 14,235 statute miles, setting a record for distance (Steve Fossett). (Sorry, Steve, that one has already been eclipsed.)

Nonpilots and pilots alike are invited by United Airlines to participate in extraordinary entertainment - a day of training at UAL Services in Denver on any one of their 36 simulators used to train airline pilots. If you are proficient on the $50 Microsoft Flight Simulator, it's time to step up to the $20 million variety. For a fee, you could get training on Boeing 727, 737, 747, 757/767, and 777 models, or on the Airbus A320 or McDonnell Douglas DC-10. As Jill Anderson of UAL Services says, "The Pilot for a Day program is not related to [airline] interview preparation; it is for entertainment purposes only." Depending on the package you'll have an hour of ground school, an hour to two hours in the simulator and a tour of the facility. Prices start at $650 for the Boeing 727/737 Bronze package, and top out at $1,750 for the Boeing 777 Gold package. Then, the next time you are in an airliner and both pilots get sick from the same fish dinner, you can take over and tell the passengers, "Don't worry, I've done this before." Call Anderson at 303/780-3626 or e-mail ( jill.r.anderson@ual.com).

Airline pilots enter the classroom

More than 2,000 elementary school students in 52 cities across the nation will adopt their own Southwest Airlines pilot as part of the airline's 1999 Adopt-A-Pilot program.

The Adopt-A-Pilot program teams Southwest Airlines pilots with classrooms nationwide representing the cities served by the Texas-based airline. The pilots serve as mentors for the students in addition to providing the focal point of the program. Using an official route map, each class will follow its adopted pilot over the course of the four-week program.

Each day the pilots will send updates and information that the students will incorporate into the Adopt-A-Pilot curriculum. The classroom materials cover such subjects as math, geography, aviation principles, civics, writing, and research skills.

Zenair of Canada, Ltd., and Independent Manufacturing and Development, a Delaware corporation, have agreed to produce the FAA-certificated Zenith CH2000 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Inducements, facilities, and infrastructure improvements are still in negotiation with the city. The U.S. facility will provide for increased production to meet current market demand, Zenair officials said.

Galaxy Aerospace has appointed Zimex Aviation, based in Zurich, Switzerland, as its third authorized service center in Europe.

Lowrance, Magellan plan merger

Lowrance Electronics, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will be merged into California-based Magellan Corporation, a satellite-access products company, as a result of a merger agreement among those companies and Magellan's parent company, Orbital Sciences Corporation. The transaction will create a nearly $150 million, satellite-based consumer and recreational electronics business under the Magellan banner, according to Magellan Chairman and Orbital President David W. Thompson.

"With approximately $100 million in annual sales, Lowrance Electronics has long been a leading player in the marine and recreational electronics business, with a special expertise in both GPS satellite navigation and sonar technology," Thompson said.

"Lowrance is a leading-edge techno-logy company whose technical know-how in GPS and sonar can be applied to emerging commercial and industrial applications and integrated with other Magellan technologies such as GPS satellite navigation and Orbcomm satellite data communications," said Magellan President John Huyett.

The acquisition will be accomplished through the exchange of stock between the publicly traded Lowrance Electronics and Orbital. Based on Orbital's March 11 closing price, Lowrance shareholders would receive approximately $24.1 million in value. Closing is expected later this year.

The announcement follows the unveiling of a new $50 million joint venture between Magellan and Hertz Corporation to deploy 50,000 Magellan-built vehicle navigation units in Hertz' car rental fleet, and an agreement to partner with Topcon Corporation to develop GPS-based precision products for survey, mapping, and machine control.

Ogden Corporation's aviation group has acquired Flight Services Group, a Stratford, Connecticut-based company. Flight Services Group is involved in FBOs, and aircraft chartering, maintenance, fueling, and sales. Ogden is involved in entertainment, aviation, and energy. The aviation group provides ground handling, passenger services, fueling, and airport development.

AOPA members in the news

Kelli Gant, AOPA 1281374, of Point Richmond, California, received the 1998 Woman Pilot of the Year Award from the Southwest Section of The Ninety-Nines. Gant was featured on the cover of the January/February issue of International Women Pilots magazine.

Karl Elmshaeuser, AOPA 1005188, owner of Pioneer Aviation at Searle Field in Ogallala, Nebraska, received the 1998 Airport of the Year Award from the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics for the many improvements he has made to the airport. Elmshaeuser received the award in 1994 as well.

Rich Schuller, AOPA 1179133, has launched a new company, Schuller Aerospace Services International LTD, an international aviation management advisory and consulting business headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. Included in the services the company offers are business development assistance and management oversight. For further information, telephone 602/948-3777.

Shawn I. Harris, AOPA 1201980, has started Pilot Records Service in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, to speed records for pilots seeking airline employment. Currently the records collection process can take months. Pilots can arrange for PRS to obtain their records before the interview process. When requested by a potential employer, they can then be shipped in days. These include FAA, employer, and state records. For information, call 615/773-4532, or visit the Web ( www.pilotrecords.com).

Mark Burnham, AOPA 1344378, of Brooklyn, New York, has created a Web site, www.avdb.com, to store data about amateur-built aircraft. Owners and builders are invited to enter data about their projects.

Carl J. Yankowski, AOPA 1273541, president and CEO of Reebok and former president of Sony, has been appointed to the board of directors of Avidyne Corporation. Avidyne makes multifunction displays for GA aircraft.

Beverly Christensen, AOPA 1139649, of Cedar, Michigan, received a training scholarship from SimuFlite and Women in Aviation International. The scholarship will pay for a type rating in a Cessna Citation.

Ted Jacobson, AOPA 171056, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, received a type rating in a Cessna CitationJet. What makes this achievement even more special is the fact that Jacobson is 75 years old.

Audrey Poberezny has received the Marjorie Stinson Award for Achievement from the National Aviation Club for serving as the Experimental Aircraft Association's office manager from the day it was founded by her husband, Paul, AOPA 117957. With her husband often away from home on military travel, she became EAA's office manager, bookkeeper, and secretary for 11 years.

Eventide has reduced prices on monochrome versions of its Argus 3000, 5000, and 7000 moving map displays. Features previously offered as options, such as flight planning and additional map ranges for the 3000, are now standard. For the 5000 and 7000 models flight planning capability, Internet updates, name/location database search capabilities, low- and high-altitude airway depictions, and BFGoodrich Stormscope and Ryan TCAD interface capabilities are standard. Contact Eventide at 201/641-1200 or visit the Web ( www.eventide.com).

Russians offer twin-engine amphib

FAA certification is anticipated next year for a Russian Beriev 103 amphibious twin-engine aircraft. The seaplane, with a payload of 883 pounds, will cruise at 143 knots and is expected to sell for less than $600,000 when equipped for day VFR-only flight.

While it is Russian-built, it comes with two 210-hp Continental IO-360 engines and Bendix/King avionics. It can handle 20-inch waves and has a takeoff weight of slightly more than 5,000 lb. The range is 675 nm. Prototypes have been flying since 1997.

The firms involved in its manufacture are Taganrog Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex, named after G.M. Beriev and known as JSC Beriev TANTK, and Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association, known as KNAAPO, which has produced MiG and Sukhoi military aircraft. Contact the company at ( knaapo@kmscom.ru).

Hartzell Propeller Inc., of Piqua, Ohio, has obtained a supplemental type certificate for installation of new three-blade propellers on Beech A36 and B36TC Bonanzas as well as Cessna A188, A188A, and A188B Agwagons. The Top Prop conversion for Bonanzas is the same prop that is now the production standard on the Raytheon Beech assembly line. Electric deice is available for the Bonanzas as well. The conversion for the Agwagon is claimed to reduce noise and improve runway performance. Both propeller conversions start at $7,195. The conversion features a new polished aluminum spinner, a six-year/2,400-hour TBO, and a three-year warranty. For information, call 800/942-7767 or 937/778-4201.

ICAO recommends 406 MHz ELTs

There are some plans afoot that AOPA is already fighting, plans that could force aircraft owners operating internationally to buy an expensive 406 MHz emergency locator beacon (ELT). The ELTs also broadcast on 121.5 MHz for search and rescue operations.

The U.S. Coast Guard is making recommendations for next-generation search-and-rescue satellites, and does not want to include 121.5 MHz receivers on them. Most general aviation aircraft ELTs broadcast only on 121.5 MHz. The Coast Guard says that the 121.5-MHz ELTs are unreliable and result in too many false alarms. In the past the use of the 121.5 MHz frequency has resulted in false distress signals from theater marquees and even home computers. The Coast Guard will also recommend that 406 MHz receivers be placed on next-generation GPS satellites.

The FAA is expected to abide by the new suggestion. The recent favorable International Civil Aviation Organization vote now allows the Coast Guard to suggest that only 406 MHz receivers be used on GPS and search-and-rescue satellites.

What does that mean to you? That means that if the proposal is enacted and your aircraft crashes in the United States and has only a 121.5 MHz ELT, satellites built in the future won't hear it. The Civil Air Patrol will have to home in on your 121.5 MHz signal during search operations, as it now does, assuming it has a very good idea of where to look. AOPA's Government and Technical Affairs officials are already working behind the scenes on a less expensive solution.

The Coast Guard released 1998 statistics that claimed to show the 406 MHz ELTs are much better. The numbers show that the 121.5 MHz ELTs triggered 101,557 alerts, but only 228 were actual distress calls, and 79 lives were saved. For the 406 MHz ELTs, there were only 3,208 alerts, but 269 were actual distress calls and 325 lives were saved. The Coast Guard's point is that there were fewer false alarms and more lives saved with 406 MHz ELTs. AOPA officials, however, point out that most of the 406 MHz ELTs are not on aircraft at all, but are on boats or are personal units used by hikers who get lost.

The 406 ELT includes a code that allows searchers to look up the owner in a registration book and to telephone that number for information. However, many 406 MHz purchasers have failed to register their transmitters. One solution is an ELT that can broadcast GPS-determined latitude and longitude coordinates, and that could be done with a modified 121.5 MHz ELT.

Signature completes deal for AMR Combs FBO purchase

Signature Flight Support has completed acquisition of AMR Combs FBOs, but the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division ordered changes to the deal before it was announced.

The final judgment orders Signature to sell FBO businesses at the Palm Springs, California; Regional Airport; Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut; and at Denver's Centennial Airport.

BBA President Dick Dodson said that to comply with the judgment, Signature will retain its existing FBO facilities and assets at Hartford but will sell the AMR Combs FBO. Conversely, at Palm Springs Signature will sell its existing facilities but keep the AMR Combs FBO. Prior to the acquisition, Signature and AMR Combs provided the only competing FBOs at both Hartford and Palm Springs.

Bruce Van Allen, president and CEO of Signature, said that Signature will still build a new FBO at Denver Centennial Airport despite the presence of an existing AMR Combs FBO. Upon completion, Signature will sell either the newly built FBO or the existing AMR Combs facility.