Pilot Briefing

March 1, 2005

Three chutes are better than one, company says

Ever since Ralph Nader's book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile was published in 1965, the auto industry, prompted by federal laws, has been on a safety kick. General aviation seems to parallel the car business, but innovation takes longer with the lack of numbers to justify mass production and the complex FAA certification process.

From terrain awareness to air bags to 26-G seats, GA safety gadgetry is in vogue now. Popping a chute on a Cirrus to save one's life is certainly traumatic for the pilot and passengers, but the news stories about these occurrences are starting to read the same.

Did we think we'd ever see that day? Now let's vary the theme.

Although igniting small charges to blow the wings off your aircraft might be counter to your natural instincts, one company believes it's the future in emergency technology. Aviation Safety Resources, a family business started in 2002, is reviving an old concept pioneered by one of its relatives, using three parachutes, instead of one, to bring down an airplane in an emergency. The wings separate from the fuselage and are lowered by their own parachutes while the cabin and its occupants float down under the main chute. The company says it improves safety by separating the aircraft from its fuel tanks, particularly important during in-flight fires, and reduces the weight the main chute needs to carry.

This particular parachute concept was ahead of its time. It was successfully tested in 1967 on a Stinson over Lakehurst, New Jersey, following a 20-year development effort. Aviation Safety Resources owns the patent for that device and plans to market the idea to general aviation and the airlines. Check it out for yourself on the Web site ( www.aviationsafetyresources.com).

Mustang roundup planned at Reno

A final effort to gather in one spot all the flyable North American P-51 Mustang fighters and the heroes who flew them will take place June 8, 2006, in Reno, Nevada. Sponsored by Stallion 51 Corporation in Kissimmee, Florida, and the Reno Air Racing Foundation in Nevada, the event could draw together as many as 100 Mustangs and 51 aces and heroes who distinguished themselves in combat. It is called the Final Roundup and follows a 1999 gathering of 65 Mustangs and 12 wartime aces in Kissimmee. — Alton K. Marsh

Notice of annual meeting of members

The annual meeting of the members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association will be held at noon on Saturday May 14, 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

Eclipse jet flies on schedule

Eclipse Aviation achieved its end-of-the-year goal by completing the maiden flight of its revamped Eclipse 500 jet. The December 31 flight went so well that the company decided to make a second flight that same day from Albuquerque International Sunport.

The first flight lasted one hour and 29 minutes, and after engineers inspected the aircraft, it was cleared for a second flight that lasted 54 minutes. The jet reached 16,800 feet and 200 knots. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, the jet represents a conforming configuration for FAA certification. There will now be a 15-month testing program involving seven airframes. Eclipse hopes to certify the jet in March 2006.

Eclipse faced a setback nearly two years ago after its first jet flew with Williams International engines. A dispute with Williams about power output led Eclipse to ink a deal with Pratt & Whitney Canada to provide new engines. Eclipse also made several design changes to the jet to accommodate the heavier, more powerful engines.

Going public: an airport case study

The coincidence is too obvious to ignore: Dyersville, Iowa, was the location for the movie Field of Dreams. But even with the town's relative popularity for tourists, keeping an airport open to the public has been a challenge. A group of enthusiastic pilots and businesses has joined forces with the City of Dyersville to make this dream become reality.

The first airport graced 30 acres of leased farmland in town, with two runways positioned west of state Highway 136 and roughly between 8th and 13th avenues. After the airport closed in 1948 to make way for development, Dyersville waited until 1978 for its next airport, located north of the railroad tracks. The airport lost its lease in 1990 when the landowner, Lumber Specialties, was sold and the land was earmarked for industrial development.

But local pilots Dave Kramer, Richard Wessles, Clarence Fangman, and Carl Johnson have kept the dream of a public airport alive. The Dyersville Aviation Association (DAA), which was created in the 1970s in part to develop the second airport, has organized the effort to turn a private grass strip west of town into Dyersville's public airport. By following a careful strategy, that dream is in sight.

The DAA appealed to businesses that would profit from the airport's availability, and garnered financial support from 26 of them. Adding those funds to a $5,000 grant from the city, the DAA is improving the airport in preparation for its application to the state for public certification, following a punch list given to them by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The DAA purchased runway lights from a nearby municipal airport in the process of upgrading, and these will be installed as soon as the runway-widening (from 80 to 120 feet) project is complete. The association also refurbished a 100-year-old one-car garage to make a pilots lounge. In addition, a phone line must be installed, and a silo across the road has been demolished to clear one of the approach areas.

But the DAA hasn't stopped there. Family flying trips are critical to the airport's appeal, according to DAA member Keith McCarraher. To this end, the group has spruced up a pond near the runway for impromptu fishing trips. Members hope to capitalize on the simple attractions that make for great flying travel memories — as well as deliver on the promise of convenient air transportation for local businesses.

The meshing of volunteer efforts with those of a town and local businesses can be duplicated anywhere a common airport goal is identified. "We've got some work to do," says McCarraher, "but everything is in motion." — Julie K. Boatman

Global Express XRS makes maiden flight

Bombardier's Global Express XRS business jet completed its first flight on January 16. Test pilot Manny Garyfalakis flew the aircraft for four hours, conducting stall system checks, lateral stability testing, and a series of engine, pressurization, and environmental control checks. Garyfalakis reached an altitude of 47,000 feet and a maximum true airspeed of 518 knots during the flight. The long-range jet has a maximum fuel weight of 44,975 pounds and can fly 6,150 nautical miles at Mach 0.85 nonstop under certain conditions. The jet features a zero-flaps takeoff capability that allows it to operate at airports at higher altitudes and temperatures, according to the company. Customer deliveries of the aircraft are on schedule to begin the first quarter of 2006. — Alyssa J. Miller

Company revives Taylor Cub

Taylorcraft fans and light-sport pilots will soon have more aircraft to choose from. Taylorcraft Aviation, based in La Grange, Texas, has announced that it will revive the Taylor Cub, and introduce the Taylor Sport, a derivative of the Cub for the light-sport aircraft market. The company is also producing several F22 models that have been out of production since 1992. For the past two years, Taylorcraft employees have been unpacking, repairing, sorting, and cleaning thousands of tools, jigs, and templates. And the engineering department sorted through some 20,000 drawings to put the general aviation icons back into production. Last May, the company received FAA approval to build and sell Taylorcraft parts for new aircraft as well as originals. The Taylor Sport and Cub both feature Continental O-200 engines and will have 2005 base prices of $59,995. Look for an upcoming feature on these aircraft in AOPA Pilot.

Squawk sheet

  • The FAA has adopted an airworthiness directive (AD) for certain models of Lancair Columbia 300- and 350-series airplanes requiring a revision to the airplane flight manuals regarding short-field takeoff distance values. When The Lancair Company was doing flight testing for the installation of an air-conditioning system, it realized that the original certification numbers were off by as much as 65 percent for ground roll and 50 percent for obstacle clearance.
  • The FAA has proposed an AD for Cirrus Design airplanes to prevent crew seats from folding forward during emergency landings. The AD would require certain SR20 and SR22 owners to have the crew-seat break-over bolts measured and adjusted, and to replace the crew-seat recline locks on both crew seats. The proposal resulted from Cirrus' discovery that the crew seats, under emergency-landing dynamic loads, may fold forward at less than the 26-G load required by the regulations.
  • The FAA has proposed an AD that would supersede a previous AD for Teledyne Continental Motors S-20-, S-1200-, D-2000-, and D-3000-series magnetos equipped with impulse couplings. The AD would reduce the inspection interval, requiring inspections to occur four times more often. The FAA estimates that the AD would affect 4,200 magnetos. Various type clubs had argued that the existing inspection time of 500 hours was sufficient.

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

Coming up in the March issue of AOPA Flight Training

  • Midair collisions. Avoid mishaps by improving your scan and understanding where you're likely to meet another airplane.
  • I gotta get down! You've heard of get-home-itis — now meet the malady known as landing-itis. Learn how to avoid its symptoms.
  • Renters insurance. Do you need it? Find out why you could be held liable for a lot of money if you damage a rental aircraft.

The March issue was scheduled to mail February 2. Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information, call 800/872-2672.

Adam pusher prop survives ice-ball barrage

The decision to put a propeller on the aft portion of an airplane comes with some new regulatory challenges, namely addressing encounters with ice. That's because the designs have to adhere to the latest regulations. Adam Aircraft's twin-engine A500, with its pusher prop in addition to a more traditional nose-mounted prop, recently underwent testing to simulate severe ice ingestion. The test, conducted in a physics lab at the University of Dayton, used a compressed gas gun to shoot 3.25-inch-diameter ice balls at speeds of up to 520 mph at the Hartzell blended-airfoil prop, an aerodynamic design that provides an optimized shape for the entire length of the blade. Adam company officials said the prop passed the test by maintaining its feathering function and structural integrity. Adam also said it's the first production aircraft to pass such stringent tests. Adam was hoping to receive FAA type certification for the aircraft by December 31, but it had to be pushed back because of unexpected delays.

ePilot Headliners

Recent news from AOPA's weekly e-mail newsletter

Aircraft carrier enters new war

Congress has approved new funds to create a permanent command center on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, now a museum docked at New York City's Pier 86 on Manhattan's West Side, in the event of another terrorist attack.

Commander to sell assets

Two years after the Commander Aircraft Company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a Delaware judge has given permission for the sale of its assets under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy laws. The situation should not affect AOPA's Commander Countdown Sweepstakes airplane project.

Tanis to continue business

Tanis Aircraft Services, maker of aircraft preheating products, said it will continue production following the death of its president, Gary E. Schmidt. He died in an airplane accident in December. Company officials described Schmidt as an enthusiastic safety advocate.

Cessna chairman retires

Cessna Chairman Russ Meyer announced his retirement, effective January 4, from the company he was involved with for 30 years. Current Cessna President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Pelton will assume the additional title of chairman.

Liberty Belle back in air

The B-17 Liberty Belle recently took flight after a 45-year hiatus that included a 15-year restoration program. It is one of only 14 airworthy B-17s in the world, according to the Liberty Foundation. The group is preparing the bomber for a national tour in 2005.

Jury favors Sandel

Another round in the continuing legal battles between Sandel Avionics and Honeywell has gone in Sandel's favor following a recent jury trial in Delaware, according to Sandel officials. The two companies previously sparred over five other patent issues regarding enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) technology.

Twin Star gets IFR nod in Europe

Diamond Aircraft's new DA42 Twin Star, featuring twin Thielert turbo-diesel engines and a Garmin glass-cockpit avionics suite, has received IFR certification in Europe by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Now you can receive a customized version of the free AOPA ePilot e-mail newsletter tailored to your interests. To customize your weekly newsletter, see AOPA Online ( https://www.aopa.org/apps/epilot/).

Read the fine print on pilot certificates

What do $20 bills and plastic pilot certificates have in common? Microtext. And both have it for the same reason — to prevent counterfeiting. On the FAA's new pilot certificate, microtext forms the struts of the Wright Flyer on the front, and on the back you can find microtext on the Wright brothers' collars and the Flyer's leading edges. (It's hidden in two places on the $20.)

"Some members have called our AOPA Pilot Information Center wondering what was going on with the tiny type," said Woody Cahall, AOPA vice president of aviation services. "The FAA tells us it's not a secret code. But it is very hard to copy. It's just one of several security features incorporated by the FAA on the new, more durable certificate that make it very difficult to counterfeit."

The text is actually portions of a Wright anniversary speech.

The plastic certificates are an interim step toward pilot certificates with photos. AOPA has long supported the idea of a more durable and attractive pilot certificate. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks brought renewed impetus to provide more secure pilot identification and brought pressure from Congress on the FAA to issue photo certificates.

The FAA has been issuing the new plastic certificates since August 2003. Anyone getting a new certificate or rating automatically gets a plastic certificate. And if a pilot needs to replace a paper certificate, the cost is only $2.

If, for privacy or security reasons, a pilot wants to remove his or her Social Security number from the pilot certificate and replace it with a new airman identification number, the FAA will send a new plastic certificate at no charge. Visit the FAA's Airmen's Services Web site to request the change.

But don't worry, you don't have to surrender your first certificate. Even when you are issued a new plastic certificate, you can keep your original as a souvenir of one of the most important events in your life.

Members in the news

Adam White, AOPA 4730198, and his film crew have completed a documentary called The Restorers about warbird and vintage aircraft restorers throughout the country who devote a major portion of their lives and finances to the passion. The crew interviewed a wide range of restorers from tinkerers to astronauts. The hour-long film is now available on VHS and DVD. To find out more, visit the Web site ( www.therestorers.com).

Winston Whitlock, AOPA 438706, recently earned an aviation accolade 43 years in the making. As an 8-year-old boy, he dreamed of working for Delta Air Lines. About seven years ago, he got his wish. Last November, Whitlock, a flight-training procedures instructor, was inducted by Delta's prestigious Chairman's Club. Of more than 70,000 employees, he was selected along with 101 colleagues for demonstrating outstanding service and contributions to Delta and its customers.

Rand Peck, AOPA 5325814, has published a book about the world of flying tailwheel airplanes called Stick & Rudder Aviation Tailwheel Transition Training Manual. Peck has turned years of experience into what he says is an easy, fun-to-read 62-page manual that can help you through the mysteries of tailwheel flying and aircraft ownership. It's available for $24.95 on the author's Web site ( www.stickandrudderaviation.com).

Peter B. Booth, AOPA 934215, has published True Faith and Allegiance, a journal spanning three decades of the Cold War as seen from the cockpits of Navy carrier-based fighters and from carrier bridges. The 283-page book is brought to life with some 280 photos, documents, and letters. More information is available on the author's Web site ( www.peterbbooth.com).

Sander Vandeth, AOPA 1286411, has some keen insight to share on aviation safety. The author's book, A Pilot's Guide to Safe Flying, summarizes the many ways of avoiding situations that can potentially impair the safety of flight. The book covers such topics as minimizing risk, handling emergencies, and avoiding weather hazards. For more information, see the Web site ( www.mcove.com).

Thomas W. "Bill" Tinkler, AOPA 023570, is one of the latest to receive the FAA's Wright Brothers Master Pilot award for more than 50 years of continuous safe flying activity. Tinkler of Edgewater, Maryland, has been flying and teaching in Luscombes for more than five decades and had a long and distinguished career as a pilot for United Airlines. He has been an AOPA member since 1946.

Bob Buck, AOPA 508339, has published a memoir, North Star Over My Shoulder, about his aviation career that began in the 1920s. Buck knew Amelia Earhart, flew with Howard Hughes, chauffeured Hollywood stars around the globe, and flew the New York-Paris-Cairo route when flying was more glamorous than practical. Buck is a retired TWA pilot and the author of four other books about flying. Published by Simon & Schuster, the soft-cover book sells for $15 and is available in bookstores.