Pilot Briefing

October 1, 1999

AlliedSignal to acquire NavRadio

NavRadio, the innovative company in Golden, Colorado, that is leading the way toward uplinked weather and other data for the general aviation pilot, has been purchased by AlliedSignal Aerospace Avionics and Lighting. AlliedSignal Aerospace President Frank Daly said that his company intends to lead the revolution toward high-speed data transmission needed to support graphical weather in the cockpit.

"We believe that this datalink technology, which can transmit both written and graphic information like weather maps, coupled with AlliedSignal Aerospace's avionics products, will give pilots the best tools available for safe aircraft operation," Daly said. NavRadio recently won a $2 million NASA contract to demonstrate the broadcast of graphical weather information to aircraft using VHF Data Link (VDL Mode 2) radios. The link is 10 times faster than current aeronautical datalinks.Maverick Air Inc.'s TwinJet 1500 made its first flight in August. The TwinJet is a four- to five-place composite kitplane with two 750-pounds-static-thrust turbojet engines. Two General Electric T-58 engines are expected to propel the TwinJet to a 348-knot max cruise speed at 30,000 feet. IFR range is claimed to be 1,300 nm. Maverick Air has decided to use the GE engines that power Army UH-1 Huey helicopters since they are available now, unlike the much-anticipated Williams FJX-2 turbofans. The engines, which are converted from turboshaft to turbojet configuration, are expected to add $102,000 to the $144,500 price of the kit. Contact Maverick Air in Penrose, Colorado, at 719/784-0255, or visit the Web site ( www.twinjet.com).

Backlog of medical certification case reviews increasing

If it's been several months since you sent medical records to the FAA and you still haven't heard back from the agency, you aren't alone. The backlog of case reviews has increased steadily through the summer, and is currently in the neighborhood of 30,000. That means a potential six- to 12-week delay if your medical wasn't issued to you at the time of the examination.

Although expediency in making certification decisions has never been one of the FAA's strong suits, it's a particularly big problem right now. Ironically, the increasing delays are in part being brought about by major changes that the FAA is making in the way business is done at the Civil Aeromedical Institute's Aeromedical Certification Division in Oklahoma City.

Technological improvements are being made on two fronts that AOPA medical certification specialists hope will put a dent in the backlog and speed up the entire medical review process. October 1 is the date by which all aviation medical examiners should be using the Internet to transmit to the FAA medical examination results. Some of the FAA's 6,000 AMEs have been using an earlier version of the system for several years.

The new version is easier to use, and should result in improvements in the process of getting the applications to the FAA. Another major change happens in the heart of the Aeromedical Certification Division, where a multimillion-dollar document imaging and workflow management system is being put into place.

This system will allow a pilot's medical records to be electronically scanned into the central system and made available to all of the reviewers in the division. Managers will also be able to distribute the files among different reviewers to allow efficient work allocation. This should eliminate many of the "lost" or temporarily misplaced files that move through the system as a case is reviewed.

Although AOPA is cautiously optimistic that these changes will help, it will take six to 12 months before we can expect to see real, lasting improvements in the review process. In the meantime, if you anticipate having to report something new to the FAA on your next medical application, you should know what to do and how to do it before scheduling your appointment with the AME. Contact the AOPA Medical Certification staff at 800/872-2672 for guidance. — Gary Crump

Inventor of swept-back wing dies

Robert Thomas ("R.T.") Jones, inventor of the swept-back wing, basic to all of today's high-speed aircraft, died at his Los Altos Hills, California, home. He was 89. Jones is perhaps best known as the inventor of the oblique wing design. This radical design concept pivoted an entire straight wing attached to the fuselage, forming a scissorlike appearance as flight speed increased.

"R.T. Jones was one of the world's most highly acclaimed aeronautical engineers," said William Berry, deputy director of the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. "He was a critical member of the Ames aeronautical community and will be sorely missed by his colleagues and friends."

Before retiring in 1981, Jones worked as a senior scientist at NASA Ames, where he earned a worldwide reputation in aerodynamics, optics, and biomechanics, as well as being an applied mathematician, astronomer, inventor, author, and violinmaker.

Grand Prix of Aviation enters second year

An annual event begun last year and sponsored by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) in Paris is set to begin worldwide airshow-style competition among the world's top aerobatic pilots. The FAI World Grand Prix of Aviation will conduct three events this year — two in the Peoples' Republic of China and one in Japan. The competition is expected to attract participants from 10 countries.

Next year there are plans to expand the Grand Prix with 12 events planned worldwide — four of them in the United States. Nine solo pilots and four aerobatic teams will enter each event, similar to a Nascar racing circuit where wins in individual events count toward a total point standing for the year. For more information, visit the Web ( www.fai-wgpa.org/grand-prix/e/home.html).

There are efforts in this country to further public interest in airshows with competitions among performers. One is sponsored by NavPlus and is taking place at several airshows (see www.caspainc.com), while a separate competition — called the World Freestyle Sportflying Competition — was scheduled to occur in late September in California at the Wings Over Stockton Air Show (see www.wingsoverstockton.org).

AlliedSignal Aerospace has successfully completed the first test-cell runs of its new AS900 engine that will power the Bombardier Continental business jet and the British Aerospace Avro RJX regional airliner. The first engine test occurred one year after the new engine family was announced. AlliedSignal will now build 12 engines and test them for 7,000 hours.

Effort made to rediscover Wright brothers' process

Everyone knows that the Wright brothers experimented with kites and gliders, and that those experiments led to manned, powered aircraft. "What we do not fully understand is how they accomplished this incredible achievement," said Discovery of Flight Foundation Chairman Jackie Dankos.

The foundation, headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia, has attempted to retrace the Wright brothers' experiments by building the Wrights' 1899 kite, the 1900 kite/glider, and the 1901 and 1902 gliders. Currently, Ken Hyde and Rick Young of The Wright Experience, funded by the foundation, are building a flyable Model B aircraft with its 1910 Vertical 4 engine. The Wright Experience also is based in Warrenton. (Hyde and Young were honored at AOPA Expo '98 in Palm Springs, California, with a $1,000 award presented by AOPA President Phil Boyer to The Wright Experience. See " AOPA Expo '98: A Splash in the Desert," December 1998 Pilot.)

Following its completion, the foundation will focus on building the 1903 Kitty Hawk Flyer that made the first powered flight. It will be taken to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a flight in 2003. For more information, telephone Dankos at 804/264-9189, or write Discovery of Flight Foundation, Post Office Box 241, Warrenton, Virginia 20188.

Orenda V-8 granted 1,500-hour initial TBO

Orenda Recip Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, announced that its 600-horsepower turbocharged OE-600 V-8 has been granted an initial 1,500-hour TBO from Transport Canada, based on several thousand hours of test-cell operation under extreme conditions. In the next 24 months, Orenda expects to ratchet the OE-600's TBO to 2,500 and then to 3,000 hours.

Orenda also announced that it is teaming with Britten-Norman to study the feasibility of retrofitting the BN2T-4S Defender 4000 with Orenda V-8s. The Defender is currently powered by two 400-shp Allison 250 turboprop engines. With the turbocharged V-8s, Orenda believes that it can improve the fuel economy and range of the Defender while lowering operating and maintenance costs. For more information, call 905/673-5319, or visit the Web site ( www.orenda-recip.com).

Greece has ordered 45 T-6A trainer aircraft from Raytheon Aircraft. The initial 25 will be similar to the U.S. Air Force/U.S. Navy configuration. The deal with the Hellenic Air Force is worth $200 million. The aircraft recently received FAA type certification, the culmination of a nine-year development effort.

British authorities have approved sales of the RotorWay 162F Exec kitbuilt helicopter in England following a year of testing. The RotorWay representative is Southern Helicopters in Herts, England. Contact Southern Helicopters at Street Farm, Takely, Bishops Stortford, Herts, CM22 6OU, United Kingdom.

AirCell picked up by seven providers

AirCell Inc., located in Louisville, Colorado, says that seven additional cellular providers joined the AirCell network to use AirCell's patented technology to provide air-to-ground communications for general aviation and regional airline aircraft. The technology reuses the existing cellular network spectrum and infrastructure to provide cellular-like service for airborne aircraft. The additional seven providers bring the total to 14.

For more information, call AirCell at 888/328-0200, or see the Web site ( www.aircell.com).

Cleveland FBO first to earn safety award

Million Air Cleveland, a fixed-base operator at Burke Lakefront Airport, is the first FBO to complete the National Air Transportation Association's new Safety 1st testing requirements for line service knowledge and professionalism.

The program consists of a practical, hands-on test administered by company management and a written exam that is graded by NATA. Line service technicians who pass the test receive uniform patches and a certificate; the FBO is recognized when all line employees complete the program. Applicants must test all existing and new line service employees, including part-time workers, within 90 days of hire. Since NATA announced the program this spring, nearly 70 companies have applied for Safety 1st qualification.

"The program was designed to improve safety on the ramp, which is a goal that all aviation service providers should strive to accomplish," said NATA President Jim Coyne.

"It is vital for all of the aviation industry, like other industries, to invest in professional training on a regular basis," agreed Tom Slavin, president of Million Air Cleveland. "The more of this that we can do effectively, the more confidence the FAA and the flying public will have in our industry — that we can do what we say we can do."

The written exam covers general safety practices, aircraft fueling operations, other aircraft services, fuel-farm management, ground service equipment, airport operations, and customer service; applicants must score 80 percent correct to pass. The practical exam must be passed with a score of 100 percent.

"It's really not a training program; it's a testing program," explained NATA's Amy Koranda. "It attests to the fact that line service employees have the knowledge and skill levels to be doing what they're doing on the line." For more information on the program, call Koranda at 800/808-6282 or visit the NATA Web site ( www.nata-online.org).

The Living With Your Plane Association (LWYPA) has released the 2000 edition of its residential airpark directory. Nearly 400 airparks are listed in the book, which includes floor plans for homes with integrated hangars. Contact LWYPA at 253/471-9888, extension 308, or by e-mail ( daves@seanet.com).

FedEx Corporation has executed an option agreement with Ayres Corporation of Albany, Georgia, for 25 additional Ayres Loadmaster LM200 cargo aircraft. FedEx and Ayres signed a deal in January 1997 for 50 of the twin-engine, single-propeller airplanes. FedEx now has 75 firm orders with options for 175 remaining. The LM200 is expected to have a revenue payload of as much as 7,500 pounds and a range of 650 miles. In addition to the FedEx order, Ayres announced that Duijvestijn Aviation in the Netherlands and Kelner Air Centers of Thunder Bay, Ontario, have each committed to order 10 Loadmasters. For more information on the Loadmaster, call 912/883-1440, or visit the Web site ( www.ayrescorp.com).

Raytheon Travel Air reports explosive growth

Raytheon's Travel Air fractional-ownership program reported that it has ordered 27 new Raytheon Hawker Horizon super-midsize business jets and 49 Raytheon Premier I light jets to accommodate the plan's rapid growth. The announcement was made at a press conference in Washington, D.C., in August.

Introduced only two years ago, Travel Air, which offers time-share ownership of new turboprops and jets, has grown to a current fleet of 47 airplanes flown by 225 pilots. The current fleet consists of Beech King Air B200s, Beechjet 400As, and Hawker 800XPs.

Travel Air President Gary Hart said that the service is "number one in customer service and satisfaction, providing a 98- to 99-percent on-time performance since its inception two years ago." Hart predicted that by 2004, more than 180 airplanes and 1,000 shareholders will participate in Travel Air. The company also has plans to penetrate the markets of Europe, Mexico, and South America. For more information, see the Web site ( www.raytheon.com).

The Sino Swearingen SJ30-2 flight-test aircraft moved ahead by a nose recently when the nose section was received from subcontractor Gamesa Aeronautical, located in Vitoria, Spain. Gamesa also will build the fuselage and wings for the SJ30-2. In coming months, assemblies for three flying certification-test airplanes, plus a static test unit and a fatigue test unit, will be assembled in San Antonio. The certification test flight is scheduled for next spring.

Hartzell Propeller has obtained a supplemental type certificate to install two-blade Q-tip propellers on Piper PA-30 and PA-39 Twin Comanche airplanes. The Top Prop conversion offers more ground clearance and lower noise levels and includes a six-year/2,400-hour TBO. Cost of the conversion, which includes spinners, is $18,900. For more information, call 800/942-7767 or 937/778-5726.

Rihn Aircraft to present new modelRihn Aircraft Corporation, located in Long Beach, California, plans to offer the DR-109 M aerobatic kitbuilt aircraft this fall. The 360-horsepower Russian Vedenyev M-14 engine will power it. A prototype will be built this fall for the launch customer. After it is built and proven, kits will then be offered. Changes from the standard DR-109 will include a new engine mount, cowl, canopy, fairings, a longer landing gear, and an entry step. For information write Rihn Aircraft at 3591 Lama Avenue, Long Beach, California 90909; e-mail ( danrihn@aol.com).

Robinson Helicopter Company's four-seat R44 helicopter is now available with hydraulic controls for a $13,000 premium over the cost of a standard model. Robinson says the package is "very smooth and completely eliminates stick shake as well as collective and cyclic control forces." Weight of the new hydraulic system is offset by elimination of the electric trim and cyclic damping weight required in conventionally controlled R44s. For more information, contact Robinson at 310/539-0508, or visit the Web site ( www.robinsonheli.com).

Conklin and de Decker has released the 1999 version of its Aircraft Comparator handbooks for shoppers of fixed- and rotary-wing turbine aircraft. The handbook allows shoppers to compare performance data and specifications for 145 aircraft to give a fair comparison between aircraft in each category. Twelve new aircraft have been added, and many updates and corrections have been incorporated. For more information, call 508/255-5975 or visit the Web site ( www.conklindd.com).

Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures Inc. is seeking single-engine Part 135 certification for its JetCruzer 500 turboprop. The company believes that sales could jump by more than 20 percent with the certification, which allows commercial utilization. AASI has targeted freight, commuter, and charter companies as potential customers. For information, telephone 562/938-8618.l A proposed airworthiness directive (98-CE-87) has been issued that would apply to Precise Flight SVS III standby vacuum systems. The proposed AD would require repetitively inspecting the push-pull cable, vacuum lines, saddle fittings, and shuttle valve for correct installation and damage. The FAA estimates that 10,000 standby vacuum systems are affected by the proposed AD. Cost of compliance is estimated to be $180 per airplane.

Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage airplanes are subject to AD 99-16-06, which is applicable to airplanes built since January 1995 up to and including serial number 4636175. The AD, which affects 185 airplanes, requires installing reinforcement plates to the wing forward and aft attach fittings. The fix is estimated to cost $1,800 per airplane and will be covered under New Piper's warranty.

Links to the full text of these airworthiness directives can be found on AOPA Online ( www.aopa.org/pilot/links/links9910.shtml).

An Australian company, Aeronautical Engineers Australia, is taking its Explorer cargo aircraft on a promotional tour in the United States. The company's branch office, in Denver, is conducting the tour. The aircraft is to be offered in three models ranging in price from $550,000 to $1.1 million. Powerplants for the models range from piston engines to a 750-shaft-horsepower turboprop. Speeds range from 153 to 175 knots. The piston-engine model, using a 350-hp Continental engine, has a payload with full fuel of 834 pounds. For more information see the Web site ( www.exploreraircraft.com) or telephone Don Joseph or Wenda Hartzell at 303/388-0600.

Ronald Harker, the man who married the British-built Merlin 61 engine to the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang to create a flying legend, died at age 90. Harker was a senior test pilot for Rolls-Royce, manufacturer of the Merlin engine, when the Royal Air Force gave him a chance to test an Allison-powered Mustang. Harker pressed for putting Merlin engines on the aircraft following his test. The British Air Ministry wanted all of the Merlins put on British-built Spitfire fighters, but Harker eventually won the debate.

AviaBellanca Aircraft Corp., in Reston, Virginia, has signed an agreement with a Spanish firm that marks a step toward SkyRocket III kit production. The SkyRocket III is an all-composite, six-passenger aircraft designed by August T. Bellanca. AviaBellanca signed a memorandum of understanding with Grupo EB-RIM of Spain for the production of composite parts. The aircraft is in the final stages of engineering that will lead to the construction of preproduction prototypes. After they are built, a kit version of the aircraft is planned.

AOPA members in the news

Edward Stimpson, AOPA 1142928, of Boise, Idaho, was nominated by President Clinton to be the U.S. ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Stimpson was formerly the president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Dr. Lynn Smaha, AOPA 537714, has been installed as the president of the Dallas-headquartered American Heart Association. Smaha, an instrument flight instructor, is a senior aviation medical examiner who counsels pilots who have had problems with medical certification.

Dr. James F. Crispen, AOPA 274644, has been elected president of the Flying Physicians Association. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, physician owns a Beech 58P Baron and a Beech T-34 Mentor, and he has 5,400 total hours.

E.L. "Mac" McCallum, AOPA 133693, of Omaha, has been named commander of the International Shrine Aviation Association. Of 191 Shrine Temples in North America, 86 have flying units. These aviation organizations fly Shrine patients and family members to Shrine Hospitals for Children and Burn Institutes for Children.

Doug Williams, AOPA 816586, was featured in The Baltimore Sun for his role in providing simulator instruction at the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville, Maryland. Williams, a former AOPA staff member, is an associate professor in the school's Aviation Management Program.

Gerald Fairbairn, AOPA 653876, of New Boston, New Hampshire, was awarded the William A. Wheatley Award by the University Aviation Association for his outstanding contributions to aerospace education. He is currently a professor of aviation at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire.

John P. Young, AOPA 824717, of West Lafayette, Indiana, received the Captain Vern L. Laursen Award from the University Aviation Association for his dedication to aerospace education. Young is an associate professor at Purdue University.

David Faile Jr., AOPA 200622, of Fairfield, Connecticut, has been selected to receive the Certified Flight Instructor of the Year Award from the General Aviation Industry Awards Program. Faile, a flight instructor for 34 years, teaches at the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Faile is to be presented the award at AOPA Expo '99 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this month.

John and George Kounis, AOPA 805589 and 1300188, publish Pilot Getaways. The brothers founded the magazine one year ago to provide destination coverage for private pilots in the western United States. The magazine has featured 32 destinations in 10 western states and Mexico. A one-year subscription is $16.75. For information, call 877/PILOT-GW or visit their Web site ( www.pilotgetaways.com).

Harry Shannon, AOPA 1190721, of Winter Haven, Florida, was selected as the Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year by the General Aviation Industry Awards Program. Shannon has been involved in the general aviation industry for more than 30 years and currently runs Harry Shannon Amphibians Plus in Bartow, Florida. Shannon is to be presented the award at AOPA Expo '99 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, this month.

Two Southern Illinois University students captured best male and best female pilot awards during the National Intercollegiate Flying Association competition in Salina, Kansas, earlier this year. Logan Fifer, AOPA 1375745, and Julie Savage, AOPA 1306820, will also participate in an American Airlines internship program next summer to further their careers.

Thurman S. "T.S." Alphin, AOPA 086367, of Hagerstown, Maryland, and Aubrey Patterson, AOPA 080935, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, were awarded Maryland Aviation Pioneer Awards by the Maryland Aviation Historical Task Force. The awards recognize persons who have made a significant contribution to the development and growth of aviation in Maryland. In 1948, Alphin founded Alphin Aircraft at the Washington County Regional Airport. Over the next 50 years, the repair station established a reputation as a premier restoration facility throughout Maryland and nearby states. Alphin, an AOPA member for 47 years, traveled around the hemisphere restoring to airworthy condition an estimated 2,000 airplanes that were deemed "beyond repair" by others. In addition, Alphin mentored many young mechanics into aviation and later employed them after they earned their certificates. One of his protégés, Tracey Potter, bought the business in 1997 and renamed it Hagerstown Aircraft Services. Patterson was recognized for his lifetime commitment to the development of the modern parachute. In 1946, Patterson established his own parachute loft at the former Harbor Field in Dundalk. The business remained until 1965 when Patterson began to provide parachute services to individual owners and flight schools. Along the way, Patterson, an AOPA member for 48 years, acquired his pilot certificate and a passion for aerial photography. He continues to fly photography missions in his Cessna 180 from Lee Airport in Annapolis.

Robert Mark, AOPA 634507, of Chicago, has published Professional Pilot Career Guide, a 400-page text devoted to guiding aspiring airline, corporate, and charter pilots. The book is published by McGraw-Hill and is available in most bookstores.