Pilot Briefing

February 1, 2008

SkyCatcher to be built in China

Cessna Aircraft has signed a deal to build its light sport Cessna 162 SkyCatcher at the Shenyang Aircraft Corp. in Shenyang, China.

The 56-year-old commercial and military fighter aircraft company has 16,000 employees and already counts among its clients Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Spirit AeroSystems of Wichita, Kansas, and Singapore Aerospace. Shenyang Aircraft, located 500 miles northeast of Beijing, will assemble the SkyCatcher while Cessna will design it, assure it meets the light sport aircraft standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials, and provide on-site personnel to oversee manufacturing, quality assurance and technical design.

The two companies began to form a partnership in 2003. Cessna claims 900 orders for the Cessna 162. After the first 1,000 orders, the price will increase from $109,500 to $111,500. Shenyang Aircraft is a subsidiary of China Aviation Industry Corp., a government-owned consortium of aircraft manufacturers. Shenyang, an industrial town, will host soccer competition during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.— Alton K. Marsh

To read Cessna’s response to pilot reaction to the China decision, visit the Web site.

Cash crunch grounds ATG Javelin

A failure to secure needed financing has led Aviation Technology Group to halt development of the Javelin, a two-seat, twin-turbofan powered aircraft aimed at the owner-flown and military markets.

Most of the company’s 50 employees were sent home in December, leaving less than a dozen to continue operations at its Centennial Airport, Englewood, Colorado, headquarters.

The fate of the $3 million Javelin now appears to hinge on Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which partnered with ATG with the goal of producing a trainer/light attack variant for the global export market.

“Further action will be decided upon after proper communication with our strategic business partner,” ATG said in a statement. Last year, ATG turned to Wall Street in a bid to raise $200 million, but this effort appears to have failed. In the interim, short-term funding from private sources has kept the company going.

George Bye, a former U.S. Air Force T-38 instructor pilot, founded ATG in 1998, amid growing interest in the burgeoning very light jet market. The Javelin is unique among VLJs, however, because of its tandem seating and fighter-style configuration.

Bye has since stepped down, and the company is seeking a new chief executive officer. Control has shifted to the company’s board of directors, which includes Horst Bergmann, retired CEO of chart provider Jeppesen, and Charlie Johnson, a former president of Cessna Aircraft.

Key Javelin components were slated to include the Williams International FJ33—one of a new breed of small jet engines designed for the VLJ market—and a top-end electronic flight information system. A Javelin prototype flew for the first time on September 30, 2005.— Paul J. Richfield

Would have flown for pizza

The Schwan Food Company has grounded its Red Baron Pizza Squadron, manned by pilots who literally were willing to fly for pizza, although money helped meet expenses. The Marshall, Minnesota, food company released the flying team and its 16-person staff after more than 28 years of service. Millions saw the Red Barons and thousands of fans were allowed to ride with them over the years. If you weren’t one of them, loop with the team from inside the cockpit (hint—stick around for that second loop) on AOPA Online.

AOPA Pilot’s third annual General Aviation Photography Contest

Go Online now to submit your favorite general aviation photo taken since January 1, 2004, in the following five categories: general aviation aircraft, airports, pilots, aerials, and altered images. View the 2007 winning photos and a slideshow of honorable mentions on the Web site.

Dept. of R&D
Sharks teach researchers to fly

With a simple flick of the tail, sharks can accelerate effortlessly through the water. Wouldn’t it be nice if airplanes could do the same in the air? Scientists have long been interested in the unique scales found on sharks that contain ridge-like structures known as riblets. The tiny ridges run parallel to the shark’s longitudinal axis and reduce drag by influencing the boundary layer. Thanks to developments in the materials sciences, researchers are getting closer to taking concepts from the natural world and adapting them to commercial applications. The Lindbergh Foundation announced on December 3, 2007, that it was awarding a grant to Dr. Amy Lang of the University of Alabama. Lang will determine whether the surface texture on the skin of fast-moving sharks, potentially capable of bristling their scales when in pursuit of prey, can be mimicked and applied to aircraft. Boeing and Airbus have done their own testing on riblets and found small gains in drag reduction. Researchers have applied special films to aerodynamic surfaces. As the Lindbergh Foundation pointed out, even a drag reduction of 1 percent could save an airline $100,000 to $200,000 a year per aircraft. The technology may become more attractive to general aviation with the rising fuel prices, especially if aircraft performance can be improved with simple modifications.

Member in the News

Eugene Cernan, AOPA 1167352, has won the 2007 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. The National Aeronautic Association presents the award annually to “a living American for significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.” Cernan was the last person to walk on the moon. Charles Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky, and Neil Armstrong are among previous recipients of the award.

What’s in AOPA Flight Training this month?

  • Are You On Your Game? 10 areas where your flying skills will slip first.
  • Glidepath Guru: Tips for landing on the spot you want, every time.
  • Perfecting the Postflight Inspection. Leave the airplane in better shape than when you found it by following these easy steps.

Current AOPA members can add a subscription to AOPA Flight Training for $18 per year. For more information call 800-872-2672.

Skywritings

Air racing wouldn’t be the same without its icons. Galloping on Wings with the P-51 Mustang is the autobiography of Howie Keefe, the man who flew Miss America. After retiring as a naval aviator, Keefe found the surplus P-51. He installed a racing engine, added an oversized propeller, and lopped two feet off each wing. The man and airplane galloped on to speed records and numerous trophies at the Reno National Championship Air Races. Published by Aviation Supplies & Academics, the 369-page soft cover book sells for $19.95.

Opulent flying boats played a key role in transoceanic flight. You can relive the experiences in Pan American Clippers, The Golden Age of Flying Boats. In exhaustive detail, author James Trautman covers this era when America was recovering from economic depression and the world was opening up. Published by Boston Mills Press, the 272-page hardcover book features numerous photos and illustrations. It sells for $49.95.

Jack Elliott wrote a newspaper column for more than 38 years and recorded the flying adventures he heard in Adventures in Flying. You’ll learn what it’s like flying across the jungles of Brazil in a two-place homebuilt covered with ice, and how a truck driver realized his dream of becoming a corporate pilot. Published by Alexander and Ray Book Publishers, the 516-page book sells for $29.95.

AOPA ePilot Headlines

Recent news from AOPA’s weekly e-mail newsletter

China to build Liberty airplanes
A newly formed company in China will build at least 600 and as many as 800 Liberty Aerospace Liberty XL-2 two-seat aircraft.

Legend Cub ready for snow
American Legend Aircraft Company has completed testing and certification to put TrickAir wheel penetration skis on its light sport Legend Cub.

Eclipse offers payment plan
Eclipse Aviation made an offer that will save some of its position holders as much as $509,000 and at the same time raise capital for the company.

New SR20 model from Cirrus
To commemorate its 10-year anniversary of aircraft production, Cirrus has redesigned the SR20 airplane, dubbing it the SR20-Generation Three.

Chelton parent buys S-Tec
Cobham PLC, parent company of Chelton Flight Systems, announced Nov. 26 that it has reached an agreement to buy S-Tec Corp. for $38 million in cash.

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.

Lufthansa acquires a trio of Connies

Three Lockheed Constellations awaiting restoration in this country have instead been sold to a branch of Lufthansa Airlines that restores aircraft the airline once flew. Formerly the property of Maurice Roundy, the aircraft are three of fewer than 20 remaining in the world fleet. Of those, few are flyable. Two of the Constellations are in Maine and the third is on loan to Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida. A restoration hangar will be constructed by Lufthansa at Auburn/Lewiston Municipal Airport to restore one of the two L-1649 Starliners based there to flying status. The other two could be used as a source of parts, one source reported.

However, it was the L-1649 at Fantasy of Flight that served with Lufthansa as a “Super Star” providing “Senator Class” service. It was later used to carry West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to the United States, Japan, and home again over the North Pole, stopping in Anchorage to refuel (it carries 9,844 gallons).