Pilot Briefing

March 1, 2001

Air Force training contract angers bidders

The Air Force and most of the bidders on the Air Force initial flight-training contract have had heated arguments in recent weeks over limited funding for the proposed contract.

The requirement by the Air Force that a 50-hour private pilot certificate be offered to 530 students at a cost of $6,000 each left most bidders shaking their heads. A majority of the 12 general aviation aircraft evaluated as trainers cost more than $200,000 each, but the contract is profitable only for schools using an aircraft that costs about $135,000. Even then, there will not be much of a profit, observers say.

Several companies confirmed to AOPA Pilot that they have decided not to bid. At stake is the sale of 30 to 35 aircraft that will be operated by the winning contractor at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The contract requires that all the aircraft be the same model.

The Air Force waited until companies had spent funds on demonstrations and proposal preparations before telling them how much the government wanted to pay. Air Force contracting officers want the training to cost the same as that offered at civilian flight schools. The Air Force has used civilian flight schools for initial training in the months since it grounded the trouble-plagued T–3A Slingsby Firefly aircraft, and it discovered that the civilian world could provide students a private pilot certificate for between $5,500 and $6,500 per student.

Most manufacturers interviewed by Pilot said they felt that their aircraft were unfairly excluded from the contract. Some are angry about the Air Force requirements, such as one requiring ailerons to remain effective during a stall. Still others feel that their all-metal, more powerful airplanes — compared to the leading candidate, the Diamond DA20 — offer a more realistic training platform for the nation's future military pilots.

The only bid that observers are sure will be made is one from the Aspen Flying Club, located at Centennial Airport near Denver; the company will include the Diamond DA20-C1 aircraft in its offer. Aspen Flying Club, a well-respected flight school, will bid for the contract under the name Falcon FTS. Another large flying school with locations nationwide is considering a bid that also uses the DA20.

Still, there is hope among the majority of bidders that the presence of only one bid, or perhaps two, will force the Air Force to rebid the contract and offer substantially more than the $3.2 million now on the table. "Many of the bidders wouldn't even have attempted the competition had they known about the funding limitation," said one observer. Few of the sources inter-viewed were willing to go on the record.

The Air Force doesn't have to rebid the contract, a contracting official has warned bidders. It can continue to send prospective pilots to the nine civilian flight schools it now uses, and forget the idea of a flight-training program at the U.S. Air Force Academy. — Alton K. Marsh

Raytheon Aircraft sale off, for now

A combination of factors as reported by a variety of sources appears to have scuttled, at least for now, the anticipated sale of Raytheon Aircraft for $4 billion.

Although there has been no official announcement, numerous stock analysts and industry observers told Aviation Week's The Weekly of Business Aviation in January that the price was just too high, and that efforts to sell the Wichita aircraft manufacturer appeared to be dead months before that. The Wichita Eagle newspaper was told by stock analysts that delays in certification of the Premier I business jet and the need to resell used Beech 1900D Regional Airliners that were under lease to two airlines are primary reasons why potential buyers walked away. But they might be contacted again in the future by Credit Suisse First Boston, the firm acting as agent for the sale.

Avmark Services founder John Green told the publications that Raytheon will retrench, restructure the deal, and attempt to sell the company at a later date, and for the same price. Raytheon Company, the aircraft company's parent, apparently wants to dump nonmilitary assets among its divisions. Except for a lucrative military trainer aircraft, Raytheon Aircraft mainly serves the civilian market. — AKM

NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING OF MEMBERS

The annual meeting of the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will be held at 12 Noon on Saturday, May 5, 2001, at Wings Field, 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. — John S. Yodice, secretary

Three Connies go up for sale

Need a Lockheed Super Constellation Starliner? Or two? Or three? Maurice Roundy of Sanford, Florida, can fix you right up. Over the years the pilot and former flight school owner has acquired three Connies.

Two are kept near his home in Auburn, Maine, while one is undergoing restoration on the ramp at Orlando Sanford Airport, Florida. That aircraft was once the pride of Lufthansa, dubbed a "Super Star" by the airline and configured to carry only 30 passengers in luxury. It was later chartered by the West German Air Force to fly Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. After that it was configured for cargo. Now, two volunteers toil daily to restore the aircraft to airworthy status. The aircraft needs another $750,000 worth of repairs before it can fly. Roundy said he is willing to part with all of his aircraft for $250,000 each, but if you want all three, Roundy will cut you a deal. In fact, he said he will continue the restoration for the right owner. If you're ready to write a check, call 407/688-1198. — AKM

Adam Aircraft announces price for M–309

Adam Aircraft will offer the first 20 production M–309 twin-engine aircraft at an introductory price of $695,000. The composite M–309's price includes a glass panel with IFR capability and seating for six in the pressurized cabin.

A minimum deposit of $25,000 secures a delivery position and is fully refundable with interest. At 20,000 feet, the airplane is proposed to have a maximum speed of 250 knots and a range of 1,500 nm. Company officials expect FAA type certification and delivery of the first production aircraft in 2003. For more information, see the Web site ( www.adamaircraft.com).

Lancair goes turbine

Kitplane manufacturer Lancair plans to offer a turbine-powered version of its popular Lancair IV-P pressurized piston single.

The airplane will use a Czech-built Walter M601E turboprop engine of 700 shaft horsepower, and may be capable of hitting cruise speeds of 340 to 350 knots at 25,000 feet. The Walter engine will cost around $92,000 and the propeller will be another $15,000. The engine mounts, cowling, and firewall assemblies will cost $7,500. The basic IV-P kit is $102,900. The Walter will be furnished as a factory-remanufactured engine with a 2,000-hour TBO or 2,250-cycles-within-five-years maintenance limits. It will also have a 1,000-hour/two-year warranty, according to Lancair.

The Walter was chosen after test flying the IV-P airframe with a 600-hp Orenda V-8 engine. "It was too complicated," said one company official. "And it cost the same as the Walter." The cowling will be about one foot longer than the IV-P's. The first flight is expected in six months, although Lancair is currently taking orders for the turbine option. — Thomas A. Horne

Mooney offers Garmin avionics in new aircraft

Garmin International Inc. has forged an agreement with Mooney Aircraft Corporation to offer complete avionics suites as standard equipment in new Mooney Eagles, Ovations, and Bravos.

The 2001 Mooney M20S Eagle will come standard with a Garmin GNS 430, GMA 340 audio panel, and GTX 327 digital transponder. New M2OR Ovation2s and turbocharged M2OM Bravos will feature the GMA 340, GTX 327, GI 106A course deviation indicator, and GNS 430/GNS 530 integrated avionics systems (IFR GPS/nav/com/ILS). Eagle can add a GI 106A and a second 430 for redundancy, or trade the original 430 for the larger-display GNS 530.

For pilots who want more situational awareness, Mooney can offer dual 530s. Garmin avionics also are standard in 2001 aircraft made by Raytheon, Commander, New Piper, Cirrus Design, Aviat, and Extra.

Company to unveil Italian kitplane in U.S.

The Pioneer 300 Italian kitplane, built by Alpi Aviation, of Pordenone, Italy, will be displayed for the first time in the United States during the Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In at Lakeland, Florida, in April.

Orlando Sanford Aircraft Sales of Sanford, Florida, has been named the exclusive North American distributor. The fast-build kit seats two side by side and cruises at 135 knots, according to company information. The kit will sell for $25,000, not including the engine, radios, and instruments. Ready to fly, the aircraft will cost about $45,000. There are 28 of the aircraft flying in Europe. The build time is claimed to be less than 500 hours. For more information, visit the Web site ( http://digilander.iol.it/alpiaviation/).

UPSAT to lead way in WAAS precision approaches

UPS Aviation Technologies announced that it will build the world's first GPS receiver capable of using signals from the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) for precision instrument approaches. Using this new technology, pilots will receive vertical and horizontal guidance with three-dimensional integrity to any runway in the United States with a published procedure.

"The airline experience demonstrates that stabilized instrument approaches with vertical guidance are the safest, yet the majority of general aviation airports don't have this precision approach capability," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "This new receiver delivers on the WAAS promise of vertical approach guidance to thousands of GA airports. And it shows that the decision to continue WAAS development is a good one."

The system is designed to warn pilots if WAAS satellite signals become degraded or unusable. UPSAT believes it will overcome critics' concerns about the reliability of the WAAS signal, which has not yet been approved by the FAA for precision approaches. UPSAT said that it will seek certification of its new system later this year. For more information, see the Web site ( www.upsat.com). — AKM

Squawk Sheet

AOPA has petitioned the FAA for extensions to the comment periods of two recently proposed airworthiness directives that would affect several Cessna airplanes. Proposed AD 98-CE-57-AD, published in late December, would require repetitive inspection and pull-tests for plastic control wheels installed in the most popular Cessna models. Proposed AD 2000-CE-26-AD would require repetitive inspection of the map light switch and the fuel line for chafing on certain model Cessna 172s. In two separate petitions, AOPA stated three reasons for extending the comment period: an inordinately short 30-day comment period, a lack of substantiating data in the FAA's publicly available service difficulty report database, and a clear need to gather pertinent service information from aircraft type clubs and owners/operators. AOPA asked the FAA to extend the comment period of each AD to 120 days. See AOPA Online for more information on the control wheel AD ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/regulatory/regcessna_wheel.html) or on the map light switch AD ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/regulatory/regcessna_map.html).

Links to the full text of these proposals and rulemakings can be found on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/pilot/links/2001/links0103.shtml).

Hartzell Propeller Inc. received a supplemental type certificate (STC) for the replacement of aging propellers on Cessna 182 through 182P aircraft. The propeller is for Skylanes with the Continental O-470-L, -R, and -S engines. The complete kit with a two-blade, 82-inch propeller and polished spinner sells for $5,995. More than 10,000 182 through 182P aircraft were produced between 1956 and 1976. For more, visit the Top Prop section of the company's Web site ( www.hartzellprop.com).

University, airline team up to assess pilot skills

Purdue University and American Eagle Airlines have joined forces to find better ways to assess pilot skills. Since the current pilot shortage has underscored the need to hire pilots according to skill level rather than flight hours alone, the multiyear project will compare applicant experience upon hiring with later success as an airline pilot.

"With better assessment tools than currently available, airlines will not only be able to select the most qualified pilots, but flight schools would be able to more effectively focus their teaching methods," said Bernard Wulle, professor of aviation technology at Purdue and the project coordinator. "We also want to develop a curriculum that provides in-depth training for regional and national airline aircraft, operations, and systems."

Century buys TRW manufacturing facility

Century Aerospace, developer of the Century CA-100 business jet, announced that it has bought TRW Aeronautical Systems' (Lucas Aerospace) manufacturing facility in Macon, Georgia. The price was not disclosed.

Century will use the facility to manufacture components and perform final assembly of the entry-level twinjet, which is scheduled to begin production in early 2003. TRW planned to close the facility, but now all 94 employees will retain their jobs and work on the Century and nonaerospace projects. The facility will operate under a newly formed company, Alliance Aerospace LLC. — TAH

Safire appoints leader, seeks more investors

Safire Aircraft Company announced that its board of directors has appointed Dimitri Margaritoff as chairman, president, and CEO. He is the brother of the company's founder, Michael Margaritoff.

So far the company has taken in nearly 800 deposits for the developing S-26 light jet. In addition to other private investors, the Margaritoff brothers have invested heavily in the start-up phase of the company. To advance Safire to the next stage of development, Dimitri Margaritoff said that the company has retained a Texas-based investment banking firm that specializes in securing funding from large institutional investors. The first flight of the composite jet is planned for 2002. It is proposed to have a cruise speed of 330 knots and a range of 1,400 nm. For more on Safire, see the Web site ( www.safireaircraft.com).

Katana 100 receives gross weight increase certification

What is a Katana 100, you ask? A Katana 100 is the more familiar Katana DA20, but one that has been refurbished with a more powerful engine and a gross weight increase to 1,654 pounds.

So far, the weight increase has been approved only in Canada, but the FAA is expected to follow suit under a reciprocal agreement. Diamond Aircraft Industries has received Transport Canada certification for a gross weight increase to 750 kg (or 1,654 pounds for the metrically challenged) for the Katana 100. The Katana 100 is a two-seat aircraft intended for primary flight training and recreational flying. It is factory refurbished with an engine upgrade from the 80-horsepower Rotax 912A3 or F3 engine to the new 100-hp Rotax 912S engine. In addition to improved performance, the conversion also offers the 10-percent increase in useful load. — AKM

S-Tec test pilot dies in helicopter accident

S-Tec Corporation, of Mineral Wells, Texas, reported that test pilot Ron Filler died on January 8 as a result of injuries suffered during an emergency landing of a Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter owned by S-Tec.

Filler was familiarizing himself with the helicopter prior to resuming flight testing of a helicopter autopilot that the company is developing. Flight tests of the autopilot had been suspended for six to eight weeks at the time of the accident. Filler made the emergency landing in a wooded area about three miles south of Mineral Wells on his way back to the airport after a routine flight. An ATP with more than 12,000 flight hours in airplanes and helicopters, Filler was a 16-year FAA test pilot prior to working for S-Tec. No cause for the crash has been determined. — AKM

NASA has bought a Lancair Columbia 300 to serve as a testbed for research on the general aviation airplane of the future. The aircraft was delivered to Bruce Holmes, director of the NASA General Aviation Program office, during a ceremony at Lancair Company headquarters in Bend, Oregon, in January. It was then flown to the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. There, it will be outfitted with a number of experimental technologies developed through NASA programs. To read about this and other NASA GA research, see AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/members/010109nasa.html). — AKM

The FAA has once again delayed the implementation of the new Grand Canyon Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) final rule and commercial air tour routes, this time until April 1. The new rules were originally to go in effect on December 1, 2000, but have been pushed back twice while the FAA reexamines safety issues. The new rules would primarily affect commercial air tour operators. AOPA had successfully objected to parts of the rule that would have imposed greater restrictions on transient GA aircraft crossing the canyon. For more, see AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2000/00-2-004.html).

AOPA members in the news

Dr. Halford R. Conwell, AOPA 240771, received the John A. Tamisiea Award for outstanding contributions in applying aerospace medicine to general and commercial aviation. His significant contributions have been in the area of medical certification for pilots, serving as the senior medical examiner for Continental Airlines' officer flight crews and pilot selection board, being a member of medical committees of the Airline Transport Association and AOPA, and for serving as a medical sponsor for alcohol rehabilitation programs for the Air Line Pilots Association and the FAA.

Sandra Williams, AOPA 996228, was the recent recipient of the United States Parachute Association's Gold Medal for Meritorious Achievement. She received the award at the convention of the International Council of Air Shows, held in Las Vegas in early December. The medal represents the highest accolade given in the sport of skydiving. Williams is only the third recipient of the award. She has 3,500 skydives and seven world records for formation jumping to her credit. Four of those records were organized by Williams herself, making her the first woman in the sport to organize large-scale world record events.

Ernie Wolfenson, AOPA 955121, recently released the second in a series of family-oriented videos. Jimmy Wilson's Takeoff II explores the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, highlighting the changes that have taken place in the five years since the release of the first video, Jimmy Wilson's Takeoff. Interviews with pilots, controllers, and airport management introduce children to all the facets of a large, working airport. For more information, visit the Web site ( www.jimmyfilms.com).