Pilot Briefing

September 1, 2000

Exxon Tiger gets revenge

Bruce Bohannon ripped through the overcast Oshkosh sky on July 30 to break one - and possibly two - world time-to-climb records.

Bohannon, in his Exxon Flyin' Tiger monoplane, shattered the old record to 9,000 meters (about 30,000 feet) by seven and a half minutes at EAA AirVenture 2000. His unofficial time was 19 minutes, 47 seconds. Bohannon also may have broken the 6,000-meter record, but it was too close to call initially. The official results for both record claims are expected in a few weeks.

Bohannon already holds the C1-b climb record to 3,000 meters and had tried two other times to break the 6,000-meter record. His last failed attempt was in April at the Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In, when his nitrous oxide-injected Mattituck-Lycoming engine failed catastrophically, forcing him to make a dead-stick landing.

Mattituck then rushed to build a new 370-horsepower engine without the nitrous in time for Oshkosh. The engine performed flawlessly, but Bohannon had some qualms about his own performance. "I did a reasonable job today, but it wasn't my best effort," he said.

Bohannon said it was nerve-racking as he sat for 45 minutes, trying to get everything ready and waiting for clearance in the middle of a zoo of IFR departures. "All the time spent sitting there worrying, wondering, and leaning against the straps, trying to make it move, really weighs on you. It messes with your mind a little bit."

After overcoming the tremendous p-factor on takeoff, Bohannon pointed the nose skyward and climbed so steeply that the leading edges of the wings were above the cloudy horizon. Since he couldn't use peripheral vision as he does when the sky is clearer, he spent more time looking at the instruments and GPS readouts and less time at the engine and temperature gauges.

In the excitement before takeoff, he forgot his jacket and gloves. Above 23,000 feet he started getting cold. On the way down at 290 knots he was shaking violently, being careful not to touch the metal fuselage that had endured air temperatures of 35 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

Every aspect of the flight was broken down to a set of data through testing. Bohannon was so fixated on monitoring the airspeed and angle of attack that there wasn't any time left to let his mind drift. "You don't have a pulse, you have an EGT," he said.

Lancair shows new Columbia 400 at Oshkosh

The Columbia 400 may be destined to become the world's fastest fixed-gear production aircraft. The Lancair Company released figures for the new airplane at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. Based on the same airframe as the normally aspirated Columbia 300, the new turbocharged plane has a 230-kt cruise speed at 18,000 feet and can hit 245 kt at 24,000 feet. Inside the cockpit are two large multifunction displays from AvroTec, running software by Avidyne. A company test pilot successfully used the avionics on the flight from Bend, Oregon, to Oshkosh. Lancair expects to complete the certification process by late 2001 and begin delivering airplanes soon after. Prices start at $349,000. For more information, see the Web site ( www.flycolumbia.com).

FAA to provide datalinked weather

For the first time, general aviation aircraft will be able to get cockpit displays of digital weather graphics and text through a service sponsored by the FAA.

The agency's Flight Information Service Data Link (FISDL) became operational during EAA AirVenture 2000. FISDL will provide basic text weather information directly to general aviation pilots at no cost after purchasing necessary avionics. Graphical products such as Nexrad maps - and other text products such as special-use airspace and notices to airmen - will be available through a subscription service.

The FISDL service will provide nationwide coverage. FISDL is a government-industry partnership with Arnav Systems and Honeywell International, both of which will act as service providers for the FAA's information. Under the five-year agreements signed in 1999, both Arnav and Honeywell Bendix/King will receive two nationwide datalink frequencies for the broadcast of basic aviation weather reports as well as additional information they provide by subscription.

The Arnav system is available now, while the Honeywell Bendix/King system comes online in the fall. - Alton K. Marsh

New service offered for contract pilots

Freelance.com, an online professional services marketplace, has expanded into the aviation industry to include contract pilots.

The company now provides an online platform service for pilots, airlines, and other aircraft operators. A team of account managers makes connections between pilots and employers by researching flight missions and qualified pilot profiles. Freelance.com's aviation database, which can be accessed through an online search engine, has a growing number of prescreened pilot resumes, categorized by verified certificates and ratings. Registration for both pilots and aviation companies is free.

"As the need for qualified pilots increases, airlines are looking to quickly fill discreet assignments with confidence that the talent they hire is up to task," said Aviation Director Nick de Varreux. For more information, see the Web site ( www.freelance.com).

Socata Aircraft unveiled at EAA AirVenture 2000 in Oshkosh the winning design in the company's Paint the Trinidad contest. Socata created the contest for AOPA members to welcome the new century with the introduction of a new generation of TB aircraft. Scott Dorsey, a symphony conductor and active pilot from Alliance, Ohio, won a trip for two to Paris and a side trip to Socata's factory in southern France.

Cessna enters fractional business

Cessna Aircraft announced that it is entering the fractional ownership fray. The trick will be doing so without offending its largest Citation customer, Executive Jet Aviation, which also happens to be the largest player in the fast-growing fractional aircraft ownership market.

Cessna's plan is to limit its fractional ownership program to the eastern United States and by doing so with only light jets - at least to start. EJA operates worldwide and has seen most of its recent growth at the higher end of the market.

Teamed with TAG Aviation in a 50/50 partnership, Cessna plans to begin operation of CitationShares soon. It is buying and refurbishing six Citation Bravos from the open market to kick off the program. In the future it will use only new Bravos and CJ1s, at least until the market demands larger aircraft, explained Cessna CEO Gary Hay at the New York City announcement.

CitationShares is an outgrowth of TAG's existing StarShares program, which uses Beech King Airs to provide regional fractional services out of Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. Under the partnership agreement, Cessna is buying half of StarShares, which was renamed CitationShares. Use of the King Airs will be phased out in favor of the Citations. For more details, see the Web site ( www.citationshares.com/flashintro.html). - Thomas B. Haines

The first production model of The New Piper Aircraft Inc.'s Malibu Meridian turboprop completed its first series of flight tests required for the extensive certification program. Following the tests, the exterior and interior will be completed before it is delivered to the first customer, Richard Dumais, CEO of Texas International. The Meridian is the first totally new aircraft developed by New Piper since it was established in 1995. For more information, see the Web site ( www.newpiper.com).

Jeppesen has launched a new training program for professionals interested in flight planning and maintenance systems. The classes are part of the new Jeppesen Academy. The classes are designed to teach customers how to quickly begin using Jeppesen's flight information products and services. The monthly classes last from one to five days each and take place at Jepp's facilities in Denver and London. Details are available on the company's Web site ( www.jeppesen.com).

Maule Air of Moultrie, Georgia, has begun production on an order for 15 glider-tow and multiuse MT-7-235 nosewheel aircraft for the Civil Air Patrol. Deliveries are to begin this year. Overall, Maule is having a good year with back orders for 100 aircraft. The company hopes to deliver 80 of the aircraft this year. In other news, Maule has developed a new Web site ( www.mauleairinc.com). - AKM

Eclipse Aviationset the price for its new twin-engine jet at $837,500 in June 2000 dollars in an announcement made at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. The maximum cruise speed is estimated at 355 kt, but with a low stall speed of only 62 kt. The range with four people is expected to be 1,300 nm at a useful load of 2,000 pounds. The aircraft will feature five seats standard, with an optional six-seat configuration. The Eclipse 500 will have IFR capability with electronic flight displays and be certified for known icing. Full-size mock-ups were on display at the fly-in. Electronics and aircraft control systems will be provided by Avidyne and BAE Systems Aircraft Controls. Eclipse, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, also announced an extended range option for the jet, bringing it up to 1,825 nm. The extended range model is estimated to have a cruise speed of 345 kt. For more information, see the Web site ( www.eclipseaviation.com).

First civilian F-16, F-18 go up for sale

A warbird restoration company in Kansas got an interesting windfall recently when it was able to purchase an F-16 and F-18.

Even better, when the paint was peeled back on the F-18, restorers discovered that it apparently was a former Blue Angel. The jets add to the inventory of 26 other military jets for Air Capitol Warbirds LLC, of Wichita, Kansas, in partnership with Fulcrum Inc., of Ontario, Canada. But there's a lot of work to be done before either one flies. Because both planes were demilitarized by the federal government, the F-18 arrived without wings or instruments.

But company officials said that they have been able to locate all the parts needed for the restoration and expect to have the F-18 flying by the end of the year. The F-16, however, may take two years of work to restore. The jets will be fully functional, minus the weapons systems.

A civilian has already put down a $100,000 deposit to hold the F-16, and a similar arrangement is available for the F-18. Company officials said insurance will, no doubt, be expensive. For more information, see the Web site ( www.airwarbirds.com).

Jepp and NASA at work on synthetic vision

Jeppesen and NASA are working under a new three-year agreement to develop synthetic vision databases for NASA research programs. The intent of the synthetic vision initiative is to reduce aviation accidents caused by hazardous weather and terrain, spatial disorientation, and other similar causes by giving the pilot better situational information in the cockpit. The system will include a multifunction display, navigation sensors, and databases for terrain and airspace. Eventually, Jepp hopes to be able to display a 3-D picture of the aircraft flight path relative to terrain, weather, obstacles, and other traffic.

AOPA members in the news

John Mohr, AOPA 951676, of St. Paul, Minnesota, has received the prestigious Bill Barber Award for Showmanship in 2000, sponsored by World Airshow News and Barber's friends and family members. Mohr is known for performing aerobatics in his Stearman, night shows in his Enstrom helicopter, and the world's only biplane-to-helicopter transfer of a stunt man.

Edward Tsang Lu, AOPA 834654, a space shuttle astronaut, is scheduled to fly on STS-106 on September 8. Lu, who holds a doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University, was selected by NASA in 1994. He previously served as mission specialist on STS-84 in May 1997.

Lillian LeBlanc, AOPA 645019, and her husband, Roger LeBlanc, AOPA 593057, owners of Twin Cities Air Service, won the national Quality Supplier Award from the U.S. Postal Service. The company has been providing air charter service for passengers and freight to the region for eight years.

Mike James, AOPA 1293186, of Frederick, Maryland, has released Clearances on Request, the third series of pilot communication training CD-ROM products known as Comm1: Radio Simulators. For information, see the Web site ( www.comm1radiosimulator.com).

Jack Ferns, AOPA 799036, has been named secretary of the National Association of State Aviation Officials. He is the current director of the New Hampshire Division of Aeronautics.

American Champion builds Champ prototype

American Champion Aircraft has built a prototype of the Bellanca 7ACA Champ and is considering it for a return to production.

Whether the model is actually revived depends on customer response. The prototype was displayed at Oshkosh. The aircraft is priced at $62,000 and is powered by an Australian-built 80-hp Jabiru engine. The newly completed aircraft will be the smallest of the American Champion line if the decision is favorable for certification and production. It may also be offered as a kit, depending on market reaction. Building time is estimated to be 600 hours.

Only 71 of the Bellanca 7ACA aircraft were built during production that started and ended in 1971. Perhaps part of the reason was because of the two-cylinder, 60-hp engine that provided poor performance. It originally sold for $4,995. - AKM

Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation announced that the Gulfstream V set a world speed record on a flight from New York to Los Angeles - breaking the previous record, held by a Cessna Citation X. On July 3 the Gulfstream V departed Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, carrying eight passengers and three crewmembers. The business jet cruised at speeds up to Mach 0.88 before landing with NBAA IFR reserves at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles. It completed the 2,219-nm flight in four hours, 34 minutes, breaking the previous record by almost 15 minutes. For more information, see the Web site ( www.gulfstream.com).

Sino-Swearingen rolls out SJ30-2

It took some 10 years and several design changes, but the Sino-Swearingen Aircraft Corporation rolled out its first conforming prototype in a ceremony attended by some 500 guests and employees.

The rollout took place in July in front of the Sino-Swearingen headquarters and assembly hangar at the San Antonio International Airport. Speaking of Sino-Swearingen - a partnership between investors in Taiwan and the United States - company President Jack Braly said, "This is the first new aircraft company to certify a jet airplane in 40 years. We're making history."

Also speaking at the event were Ed Swearingen, the airplane's designer; Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.); and George Liu, representing the Taiwanese investor group. "You can't get more speed or range from any other business jet for less than $15 million," Swearingen said.

"Before the SJ30-2 came along, you'd have to pay $12 million to fly nonstop coast to coast...In comparison, the SJ30's $5 million price tag makes this airplane an exceptional value," Braly said. The SJ30's projected maximum cruise speed is Mach 0.80.

Rockefeller was instrumental in obtaining the site for the SJ30's final assembly plant in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Tail assemblies are now being manufactured at the Martinsburg plant.

Sino-Swearingen says that it has 164 orders for the airplane, the first flight will happen in September, and that certification should follow a year later. Already in assembly are a static test article, a fatigue test airplane, and two production test airplanes. - Thomas A. Horne

Stoddard-Hamilton files for bankruptcy

Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft Inc. filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Seattle, said the company's attorney, Geoff Groshong.

As part of the reorganization process, Stoddard-Hamilton would sell off its worldwide manufacturing and marketing rights for the GlaStar kit line to a father-and-son team from Texas. The team would also buy the GlaStar and Glasair assets. Under the name GlasPlanes Inc., W.D. and Lonny Weitzel plan to reinvigorate the popular series of composite planes with better customer service and control over the company's finances.

The Weitzels were waiting for a federal judge to approve the deal. Under the terms, the Weitzels would take over the lease for Stoddard-Hamilton's old headquarters building in Arlington, Washington, and even use the same phone and fax numbers, Lonny Weitzel said.

Despite the uncertainties after Stoddard-Hamilton closed its doors on May 8, there are companies out there willing to support builders. Aerospace Manufacturing Inc., for instance, will continue to offer exhaust systems for the GlaStar and assist builders with engine mounts, said Chuck Freese, the company's national sales manager. For more information, call 800/597-4315.

In an effort to promote women in aviation, a first-ever caravan of women pilots flew to Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture 2000. Realizing that only about 6 percent of women are pilots, the "Women with Wings to Oshkosh" sought to improve the numbers by raising awareness. Judy Dixon and Kathie Richey, both Piper Pacer pilots from Oregon, started the movement and discovered that women have too few role models in aviation. Fifteen planes participated in the caravan, and the pilots ranged from CFIs to students. The group plans to do it again next year. Pictured are, from left to right, Richey, flight leader Abbie Friddell, Dixon, and Mary Corrington. For more information, see the Web site ( www.ccountry.net/~chicks).

Goldin defends NASA role in aviation

NASA Administrator Dan Goldin celebrated advances in general aviation during his visit to EAA AirVenture 2000.

Some of those advances resulted from Goldin's 1992 visit to Oshkosh that led to an influx of funding into aeronautics and avionics research. Many of the glass cockpits on display, especially those in Lancair aircraft, benefited from NASA research efforts, Goldin said. He said Congress chopped funding for the Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) because there was an attack on all new projects. He is hopeful that the funding can be restored and said many in Congress do not understand NASA's role versus that of the FAA.

"The FAA doesn't have the capacity to invent," Goldin said. The SATS program would reduce air traffic congestion by bringing largely automated small aircraft to smaller communities.

Teledyne Continental said that its new diesel aircraft engine, developed with NASA funding, is expected to fly soon. The French company, SMA, has completed the Snecma-Renault engine SR305 diesel engine and flew it on July 16 on a Cessna 182 operated by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The first engines will be sold next year to a small number of customers for field testing.

Another diesel by Delta Hawk could be delivered for nonaeronautical uses by the end of the year. The engines will eventually be used in aviation but are also expected to be utilized by drilling companies, hovercraft, compressors, and other users. The 200-hp engine will cost $19,000. - AKM

FAA announces steps to improve runway safety

The FAA has announced 10 initiatives for reducing runway incursions that will be implemented immediately.

The initiatives were selected from among some 800 items by a joint industry/FAA working group (which is cochaired by Dennis Roberts, AOPA's vice president and executive director of Government and Technical Affairs) as having the highest potential to reduce runway incursions, and which could be implemented before the end of the year.

Among the initiatives are repainting and doubling the size of runway hold-short lines and outlining them in black to improve contrast. Also on the list is improved pilot testing and evaluation, with more questions on surface operations added to FAA knowledge tests. All check flights (new pilot certificate, biennial flight reviews, etc.) will include evaluations of pilot knowledge of airport signs, lighting, and markings. (Ironically, these items were included in the 1998 recommendations of another runway incursion advisory committee, chaired by AOPA Air Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Landsberg.)

Other initiatives include a new advisory circular on airport surface operations, a review of pilot/controller communications phraseology, teamwork and memory-enhancement training for tower controllers, and more education for foreign pilots. The FAA listed AOPA, ASF, and the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations as resources to be used in accomplishing the runway incursion initiatives.

Jet guru dies of cancer

Allen E. Paulson, who had a thing for fast jets and racehorses, died on July 19 at a hospital in La Jolla, California, after a battle with cancer. He was 78.

Paulson once owned Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and accumulated a fortune in the aviation industry. The self-made man worked his way up from a mechanic at Trans World Airlines when he was 19. In the late 1970s, Paulson formed Gulfstream and oversaw the company's tremendous growth in the burgeoning business jet arena and introduced a number of new products.

Paulson sold his majority interest in Gulfstream to Chrysler Corporation in 1985 for $637 million. Then about five years later, he bought the company back again for more than $800 million, only to sell off his stake two years later in 1992, Business Aviation reported.

Paulson also had a successful career in horse racing and breeding and was known for his philanthropy.

Paulson is survived by his wife, Madeleine; sons Richard, Jim, and Mike; and Dominique, his stepdaughter, according to The Los Angeles Times. Another son died in an airplane crash.

Problems establishing a production facility in North Bay, Canada, have delayed until next fall plans to put the Windeagle aircraft in production. Officials of Canadian Aerospace Group said new facilities have been located in Quebec. Production could begin this fall, but the first production aircraft will not fly before next year. The company plans to offer piston and turboprop models of the four- to six-passenger aircraft. The piston model, powered by a Continental IO-550 engine, will sell for $200,000, while the variant powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT-6 turboprop engine will cost about $800,000. - AKM

Squawk Sheet

The FAA has officially rescinded AD-99-05-13 that mandated the installation of a placard on the fuel selector of nearly all Beech airplanes to "warn of the no-flow condition that exists between the fuel tank detents." Last May AOPA petitioned the FAA to rescind the airworthiness directive based on the fact that a pilot's improper positioning of a fuel selector valve is an operational concern rather than an airworthiness issue. AOPA argued that if the FAA mandates the installation of a placard for every possible pilot error, critical emergency information would become lost in a muddle of general operational information. For further information and a copy of the final rule withdrawal, see the Web site ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/regulatory/regbeechfuel.html).

Links to the full text of these proposals and rulemakings can be found on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/pilot/links/links0009.shtml).

Stemme launches new ships

Stemme plans to introduce two new aircraft, both derivatives of the Stemme S10 high-performance motorglider.

The S08 is a touring motorglider with the same turbocharged Rotax 914 engine as in the S10-VT; also available is a version with a normally aspirated Rotax 912 engine. Unlike the S10-VT, which has a retractable propeller for most efficient soaring, the S08's propeller will not retract, but the prop will feather, reducing drag in the glider configuration. Another difference is that the S08 will have fixed tricycle landing gear while the S10 uses a tailwheel configuration.

The S08 is expected to cruise at 148 knots compared to the S10-VT's 140 knots. Glide ratios for the S10-VT, the S08, and the S07 are 50:1, 35:1, and 45:1, respectively. The S10-VT lists for about $170,000. Stemme USA, the North American distributor for the German manufacturer, expects the S08 to start at about $110,000. The S07 has a planned price of roughly $70,000. For more information, visit the Web site ( www.stemme.com). - TBH