Pilot Briefing

March 1, 2000

Socata announces model improvements

Socata Aircraft is welcoming the new century with the introduction of a new generation of TB aircraft. At a ceremony last month at its Tarbes, France, factory, the company rolled out the first TB20 GT. Like the rest of the TB line, the Generation Two Trinidad sports a new aerodynamically refined upper fuselage and a host of other enhancements that provide better performance and about two more inches of headroom to the front- and backseat passengers. All of the TB models will receive similar aerodynamic enhancements.

The most significant change includes a new carbon-fiber top to the fuselage. The previous composite-and-aluminum top was heavier and more square in appearance than the new all-composite one. The models also get new all-composite doors, but retain the unique gull-wing design. The change permits even larger windows, enhancing visibility in what was already an easy airplane to see out of. The windows are now built into the airframe, eliminating the previous black rubber seals. The new dark window frames and rounder top give the airframe a more rakish look. Enhancing the aerodynamics and looks are recontoured wing tips and the addition of a fairing to the horizontal fin/empennage junction. The wingtip and fairing changes help to improve spin characteristics, according to Socata test pilots.

Other aerodynamic improvements to the Trinidads include retraction mechanisms to the steps on each side and the option of a new three-blade Hartzell propeller with scimitar tips. The overall changes add three to five knots to the typical TB20 cruise speed, giving it a top cruise of about 160 kt. Besides the additional headroom, pilots will also appreciate the new larger baggage door that replaces the original model's small triangular one. A well-equipped TB20 GT lists for $352,000, about 2 percent more than last year's model.

Phil Boyer, president of AOPA and the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, gave the keynote speech at the rollout ceremony. After the speech, he, Socata Chairman and CEO Philippe Debrun, and Helene Frankel, president of AOPA-France, christened the first TB20 GT with a bottle of French champagne. — Thomas B. Haines

Socata is seeking the help of AOPA members to design a new paint scheme for its new line of Generation Two TB models. In the Web-based contest, members can select from several stripe patterns and colors or choose to design a scheme from scratch. Socata will select a winner from the submissions and paint a TB20 GT in the scheme for display at EAA AirVenture 2000 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, this summer. The creator of the winning design will win a trip for two aboard an Air France Concorde SST to Paris and a side trip to Socata's factory in southern France. Others who submit designs will be eligible to win dozens of additional prizes including flight jackets, handheld GPSs, and shirts and caps. The contest ends at midnight May 15.

Online taxi diagrams to benefit VFR pilots

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has rolled out a new weapon in its fight to reduce runway incursions. ASF found that many VFR pilots do not have convenient access to airport taxi diagrams, which are a staple of IFR operations. So, in conjunction with the FAA's Runway Safety Program Office, ASF will offer free airport taxi diagrams to all pilots via AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/asf/publications/taxi/). Diagrams for more than 300 towered airports were to be available beginning February 24; those for the remainder of the country's towered airports are to be added within 12 months. "VFR pilots now have a place to go to get this important information for free," said Bruce Landsberg, ASF's executive director. "This is something that will be very useful to everybody." Additional information on runway incursions can be found in ASF's Operations at Towered Airports Safety Advisor ( www.aopa.org/asf/publications/sa07.html), or from the Runway Safety Program Office's Web site ( http://www.faa.gov/runwaysafety/).

Canada to continue support for Snowbirds

Chances are that Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, the popular airshow formation team that has become a national symbol for its country, will continue, team commander Maj. Bob Painchaud has told AOPA.

"I was told before Christmas that the chances are better than 50 percent that we will continue," Painchaud said from his training headquarters in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Only the aircraft will change. Two of the aircraft that are under consideration to replace the present Canadair Tutor jet are NATO flight training aircraft — the T-6A Harvard II (also known by U.S. military forces as Raytheon's new T-6A Texan II turboprop) and the British Aerospace Hawk 115 jet. The Tutor will continue to be used for two more seasons.

Last year the Snowbirds flew 77 shows in 51 locations. Of those, 12 percent were in the United States. That is done under an agreement with the U.S. government, and U.S. military demonstration teams try to reciprocate equally. To see the Snowbirds' schedule for 2000, visit the Web site ( www.snowbirds.dnd.ca/index.asp).

State Department puts test-pilot school in spin

The National Test Pilot School in Mojave, California, has been training civilian and military test pilots from all over the world, including the United States, for 18 years. In November 1999, the State Department decided that the school needs a license to teach its courses, which are based on generic mathematics and physics. Weeks after the school applied for the license on December 3, the State Department ordered the school to cease training of foreign military students. A new class was just starting. In early January, the school met with the State Department, showed officials there the textbooks — which are standard in any university — and won the right to continue "generic" training. Since all training at the National Test Pilot School is generic, that allowed classes to resume. By the time you read this, it was expected that the school would have its license. Look for an article on the school in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot.

Fuel contamination grounds Australian aircraft

Thousands of general aviation aircraft were ordered grounded in Australia during December and January. Fuel at a Mobil Oil Australia refinery was contaminated by ethylene diamine, an anticorrosion agent used in the refining process to manufacture avgas of 100/130 octane. It is added during a process called alkylation to neutralize acid.

The contamination resulted from an increase in the dosage of this chemical in mid-November at the Altona, Australia, refinery. It produced an unexpected result in aviation gasoline. AOPA-Australia is leading a class-action lawsuit against Mobil to protect its members' rights.

The contaminant may affect aircraft fuel systems in two ways. First, there appears to be a reaction with carbon dioxide in the air, which may cause white or clear deposits to form inside fuel tanks. Second, when the contaminant makes contact with copper and brass in the fuel system, a black sticky substance appears to be formed that can block filters and carburetors.

Mobil became aware of the problem after it was reported by pilots at Moorabbin Airport, Australia. A light aircraft lost power on takeoff on December 21 at Moorabbin. An airworthiness directive was issued by the Australian government on December 23. On January 6, pilots of aircraft at two airports found that even after they drained their fuel systems and replaced the fuel, contaminants remained. All aircraft affected by the fuel contamination were grounded by the Australian government on January 10. To track the story yourself, see the Mobil Oil Australia site ( www.mobil.com.au/news/media.htm). For Australian government press releases, see http://fed.gov.au/medrel.htm and search on "contaminated fuel."

Owners of business airplanes with certain Collins and Bendix radar systems can now replace their radar display with the Avidyne FlightMax 850 to bring an all-in-one multifunction display (MFD) into the cockpit. Data from Collins WXR 250, 270, 270A, and 300 models as well as the Bendix RDR 1100, 1200, and 1300 radars can be displayed — in full color — on the Avidyne FlightMax 850 Flight Situation Display. Other information that can be shown on the display includes: lightning strikes through a BFGoodrich WX500 Stormscope interface; traffic targets through interfaces with BFG's TCAS I or Skywatch products; VFR or IFR charts; and, for an extra $5,995, terrain information from an interface with Honeywell's Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System. FlightMax 850 lists for $17,995 and should be shipping by mid-year. For more information, contact Avidyne at 800/284-3963, or visit the Web site ( www.avidyne.com).

Aircraft Manufacturing and Development (AMD) company has delivered its first CH2T trainer to KeyFlite Academy of Nashua, New Hampshire. The airplane is the first of 11 CH2Ts that will be used in the flight training program at KeyFlite and by the Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York. The CH2T is manufactured in a new facility at the Heart of Georgia Regional Airport in Eastman, Georgia. Also manufactured there is the CH2000. Both the CH2T and the CH2000 type certificates are held by Zenith Aircraft. The CH2T is powered by a Lycoming O-235 and cruises at 100 knots. It is certified in the Utility category for IFR and is approved for spins. AMD says it has 14 CH2Ts on order and hopes to build 80 airplanes this year. Prices start at $69,900. For more information, contact AMD at 912/374-2759, or visit the Web site ( www.newplane.com).

Lycoming reduces prices on remans; offers overhaul and crankshaft kits

Textron Lycoming has reduced the price of its entire line of remanufactured engines. All 235-, 320-, 360-, 540-, and 720-cubic-inch models have been priced below 1999 prices.

Lycoming's remanufactured engines are "zero-time" and come with a new logbook and a warranty identical to that of a factory-new engine. For specific model pricing, contact your FBO or Lycoming distributor.

Lycoming also announced that it is offering overhaul kits for the O-235-L-series engines. The kits contain all normally consumed power section parts that are replaced during the overhaul process. Lycoming says that the list prices on the kits are lower than the previous list prices on these replacement parts when purchased individually. Lycoming also will include crankshaft and connecting rod bearings at no additional charge with the kit. In the future, Lycoming expects to offer similar kits for its larger-displacement engines.

Crankshaft kits for Lycoming's 320- and 360-series engines also are being offered at package prices. Each kit contains a new crankshaft, nose seal, gear bolt, lock tab, and all required bearings. For more information, contact Lycoming at 570/327-7278, or visit the Web site ( www.lycoming.textron.com).

Sporty's Pilot Shop will consolidate catalog sales at its Batavia, Ohio, headquarters and close Sporty's European facility.

Pan Am International Flight Academy recently acquired Flight Review Inc., a Beech training provider in Scottsdale, Arizona. The company will be merged with Pan Am's SimCom International in Scottsdale.

AOPA members in the news

Walter "Wally" David, AOPA 1095913, has been named president and chief executive officer of Pan Am International Flight Academy (PAIFA). David founded SimCom International in 1989 and served as its president until selling the company to PAIFA in 1999; since then, he has served as the academy's executive vice president. The Miami-based academy provides business and commercial aviation training.

Greg Brown, AOPA 640529, of Fountain Hills, Arizona, has been named the FAA's Western/Pacific Region Flight Instructor of the Year, as well as the Arizona Flight Instructor of the Year. Brown is a contributor to AOPA Flight Training magazine.

Bill Drumm, AOPA 743523, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has started a new Web site to attract pilots to New Mexico. The address is www.flynewmexico.com, and it provides viewers with basic airport information, runway diagrams, safety tips, and frequencies for local flight service and air route traffic control centers.

John N. Eustis, AOPA 172143, is the new airport board chairman at Easton/Newman Field, Maryland. Eustis shook hands with Orville Wright as a small boy living in Dayton, Ohio.

Don Wylie, AOPA 868509, president of Texas Air Aces in Spring, Texas, near Houston, has created a new division to provide the company's unusual attitude and upset training. Aviation Safety Training now offers the school's Advanced Maneuver Program, which consists of two to four flights and a one-day ground school. For details, call 800/544-2237 or 281/379-2237.

James Giordano, AOPA 1114946, of Houston, and J. Steven Rayburn, AOPA 806443, of Beaumont, Texas, established a new world speed record of nearly 120 kt flying a 1948 Navion L-17B powered by a 265-hp Continental IO-470 engine. The two landed just after midnight on January 1 after flying from Beaumont to San Antonio, Texas.

Honeywell, UAL host a look into future WX products

Honeywell and United Airlines, part of a team of contributors to a new generation of weather-avoidance hardware and software, gave a glimpse of some equipment that may soon make its way into airline — and eventually, general aviation — cockpits of the future. Also on display at a media event staged at the United Airlines training center in Denver were Jeppesen electronic chart displays and an Internet-accessible FMS practice service being developed by Honeywell.

Weather Information Network (WINN) is a joint effort to bring a total of seven datasets of graphical and textual weather information to the cockpit. Ground-based Doppler weather radar, radar summary, satellite, and weather-depiction graphics are uplinked, and so is graphical information on turbulence. Areas of probable icing hazards are also identified.

The weather information itself is contributed by Litton/WSI, the National Weather Service's Aviation Weather Center, Kavouras, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Honeywell's data center in Phoenix serves as the collection point for all these sources.

In essence, the WINN project resembles services now offered to the general aviation market by Arnav and other datalink weather vendors. WINN is a program that NASA systems engineer Edward Johnson says is part of a 1997 NASA aviation safety initiative formed in response to a report from the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. The goal is a fivefold reduction in fatal accidents over a 10-year period.

Weather information is uplinked to airplanes participating in the experimental program via satcom relay provided by Comsat and Sita. Both firms have used VHF datalink and packet-mode data transmissions over satellite frequencies to send the weather information. Under the packet-mode scheme, graphical data is sent in bursts as gridded bitmap files, then decompressed using on-board receivers. This allows for fast transmission of large files — a feat that's difficult using jpeg or gif files over VHF links with their narrow bandwidths.

So far, use of UAT (universal access transceiver) technology hasn't been explored. Update rates average around 15 minutes. WINN stores the last hour and a half's worth of radar imagery, the last eight hours' turbulence data, and at least two and a half hours' worth of satellite imagery. For more information on this and other Honeywell aviation products, visit the Web site ( www.cas.honeywell.com).

The Integrated Crew Information System (ICIS) is a cockpit display unit that can be used to show WINN data, plus a wide range of navigation, performance, and procedural information specific to an airplane. Line select softkeys located around the unit's bezel are used to call up normal and emergency checklists, information from flight manuals, navigation charts, V-speeds, weight and balance, flight plans, maintenance logs, and other data. The ICIS display is manufactured by Avionitek, an Israeli company with offices in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Certification and use of the first displays will be in Boeing 747-200s operated by Northwest Airlines. Shipsets of three units should sell for between $125,000 and $145,000. For more information, e-mail info@avionitek.com.

Want to brush up on rusty flight management system (FMS) skills? Check out Honeywell's Internet-based practice Web site. The site should be online soon and cost $1 per minute to access. The site will let you "operate" a variety of Honeywell airline and business jet FMSs. You'll be able to "fly" the airplane, see flight instrument displays, and make entries on an FMS keypad.

Jeppesen showed off its recently developed CD-ROM chart service on a dedicated display unit — the Northstar CT-1000. The CT-1000 is the first unit chosen by Jeppesen; compatibility with other displays is now being examined. Imagery was crisp, and a navigation interface helps situational awareness by showing your symbolic airplane as it flies an approach. The service is in a beta test mode now, but should debut soon. Approach chart service will be offered first. Later, en route moving maps will be offered, a company spokesman said. Prices have yet to be determined.

Weather-watchers who want to know more about storm systems can use Kavouras' StormSentry, a storm-tracking and -monitoring software package that displays all watches and warnings, gives predicted storm positions, and even calculates rainfall accumulations. For a free demo CD of StormSentry, e-mail info@kavouras.com.

Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire, will auction off some pretty unusual items during its annual fund-raising auction on March 4 — including a flight in an F-4 Phantom owned by the Collings Foundation. Money bid for the F-4 ride will go toward aviation scholarships. Other auction items include flights in B-17 and B-24 bombers, as well as vacation trips and tickets to major sporting events. The auction takes place during a dinner for which tickets are required. For more information, call Patty Edgar, the college's director of alumni relations, at 603/577-6624; or send her an e-mail ( edgar@dwc.edu). — Michael P. Collins

Squawk Sheet

The long-awaited airworthiness directive (AD) affecting turbocharged Cessna 300- and 400-series exhaust systems has been released (see " AOPA Action.").

AD 99-27-02, which affects Cessna 170, 172, 175, and 177 airplanes, allows the pilot to check the airplane logbooks to determine whether faulty fuel selector valve cams or fuel selector valves shipped by Cessna from December 6, 1998, through May 10, 1999, are installed. If the parts in question are installed, they must be replaced within 10 hours' time in service from the January 21 effective date.

Mooney Aircraft Company recently sent a letter [requires Adobe Reader] to Bravo, Ovation, and Eagle owners that details a forthcoming AD that will require adding rivets to the airframes in areas where a drilling machine was automatically chamfering holes that shouldn't have been. Mooney says that there is no safety-of-flight issue associated with this problem, but because the airplanes do not conform to the original design drawings, the FAA is mandating action. Mooney says owners of 51 affected airplanes will have two years to bring the airplanes back to the factory for compliance. Mooney is covering all expenses, including those incurred in getting the airplane to and from the factory.

Piper J-2 Cubs were inadvertently omitted from an AD requiring repetitive inspection of wing lift struts but are now included per AD 99-26-19. The rule also requires inspection of the wing lift strut forks for cracks.

Cessna now offers a new exhaust system for the Cessna 182S that terminates the repetitive inspections required by AD 98-13-10. The FAA released AD 2000-02-14 to address this action.

UPS Aviation Technologies gains TSO approvals

UPS Aviation Technologies has received FAA technical standard order (TSO) approval for its new SL30 VHF nav/com and SL70 Mode A/C transponder. The TSO-approved equipment — combined with the already-certified SL15 audio panel and GX50 GPS receiver or the GX60 or GX65 GPS/coms — give UPS Aviation Technologies (formerly II Morrow) a complete IFR-certified avionics package.

Digital signal processing allows navigation to VOR-defined intersections using only one SL30 receiver — the pilot can employ standard VOR navigation using the VOR indicator's course deviation indicator, while simultaneously depicting radials from a second VHF ground station on the SL30's digital display. The SL30 automatically decodes VOR and ILS Morse-code identifiers and displays the alphanumeric readout on its front panel; when paired with a GX50, GX60, or GX65, the SL30 will list the 10 nearest VORs by identifier, allowing push-button selection and tuning.

The SL70 transponder automatically monitors its receive and transmit functions, and alerts the pilot to any system errors. Both new products are shipping and should be available from dealers, said Sam Seery, UPS Aviation Technologies' director of sales and marketing. For more information, visit the company's Web site ( www.upsat.com). — Michael P. Collins

Oracle president fights San Jose nighttime restrictions

Oracle President Larry Ellison looks at his Gulfstream V airplane and sees a business jet. And it happens to meet the most stringent noise requirements that the FAA has — Stage 3 noise standards. San Jose airport officials look at the same airplane and see an airliner. San Jose's own nighttime noise curfew allows Stage 3 business jets to operate from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. But not Ellison's Stage 3 business jet. Airport officials say that it weighs too much, and therefore must be categorized as an airliner.

What has weight got to do with noise? That's what AOPA officials have been asking for months. The fight over Ellison's aircraft is the tip of a more important issue that has AOPA's attention — the treatment of all GA aircraft at San Jose International Airport. Ellison thought, after landing his Gulfstream V nine times during San Jose International Airport's nighttime curfew, that the city would take him to court. In fact, he was expecting it. But when the city did not, he took it to court so that the night ban can be challenged. The Gulfstream V just happens to be certified in two weight categories — 90,500 pounds and 75,000 pounds — and the database king thinks he can make a good case in U.S. District Court in San Jose that it meets the letter of the San Jose noise ordinance. The ordinance says 75,000 pounds is the cutoff point between nonairliners and airliners. Ellison's attorney, Ed Davis, said the regulation is left over from years ago when a larger aircraft automatically meant a noisier aircraft. City attorneys say they will defend the night-flight ban. If the judge decides that the San Jose ordinance is arbitrary, it could have ramifications for other cities with night bans, Davis said.