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| GA News |
CIRRUS PILOT POPS CIRRUS CHUTE, LANDS IN FIELD
When a Cirrus SR20 went down in a field in Lexington, Kentucky, last Saturday it marked the first time that the rocket-launched parachute system had been activated by a customer. But there is uncertainty as to why the parachute didn't activate immediately. The airplane's owner, Paul Heflin, and another instrument-rated pilot, Ben Ditty, were going to do practice instrument approaches in actual conditions at Blue Grass Airport when they experienced instrument failure after takeoff, Heflin told ePilot. Heflin said that the pilots found themselves in an unusual attitude in the clouds. Heflin said he reported to controllers that he was pulling the activation handle at 2,000 feet agl. After there were no immediate signs that it had launched, Heflin said he continued to pull it numerous times in the manner in which he had been trained. But the chute didn't fire until after the airplane landed in field several miles from the airport, he said. Neither pilot was injured.
... HANDLE DEEMED HARD TO PULL
Heflin said engineers later determined that he had exerted a force of 100 pounds or more on the handle and that he had pulled at the proper angle. Heflin said that the rocket canister was found about 50 feet from the aircraft. Heflin had complied with a service alert bulletin issued by Cirrus that required immediate modification to the activation cable that may have prevented the parachute system from launching. But he did not comply with another service bulletin designed, with a modification, to reduce the force necessary to activate the chute. Cirrus sent out a message to owners Sunday recommending that they comply with the second bulletin before the next flight. The company also advised, "Pull down with both hands--hard!" Cirrus spokesman Ian Bentley said that "it's impossible to speculate" at this point what exactly happened and that "nobody is pointing fingers." An NTSB investigation is currently under way.
SOLD: MOONEY HAS NEW OWNER
With the purchase of Mooney Aircraft's assets on Monday, Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures Inc. (AASI) is transforming itself from a startup company to a leading supplier of piston-engine aircraft. The federal bankruptcy judge approved the sale with AASI being the lone bidder. Long Beach, California-based AASI plans to restore Mooney to full production within a few months at the Kerrville, Texas, facility. AASI said it will be completing 21 airplanes that were left unfinished when production ceased last year. Along with the change in ownership comes new names. AASI intends to change its name to Mooney Aerospace Group Ltd. while Mooney, a subsidiary, will become the Mooney Airplane Company Inc. AASI has also launched an 18-month redesign program for the Jetcruzer 500 and has entered into discussions with Century Aerospace Corporation to acquire the rights to manufacture the Century Jet. Roy Norris, AASI president and CEO, said that any aircraft company operating in today's business environment needs to have a multiple-model product line and take advantage of recent technological advances.
SPACE SHUTTLE LAUNCH TIMES TO BECOME SECRET
NASA announced this week that, for security reasons, it intends to keep the exact times of future shuttle launches secret until 24 hours prior to liftoff. This has raised concerns by Florida pilots who are most affected by flight restrictions that accompany shuttle launch operations. For shuttle launches since September 11, AOPA has worked with the FAA to disseminate graphical and other flight-critical information via AOPA Online. AOPA will continue to work with NASA and the FAA to get pilots the information they need on a timely basis. Several senior NASA managers are AOPA members and say they understand the impact of shuttle-related flight restrictions on pilots. They have pledged to AOPA that they will minimize the restrictions as much as possible, consistent with security concerns. NASA's next shuttle mission is scheduled for April 4.
NASA PROVIDES EYES FOR PILOTLESS CRAFT
NASA's remotely piloted aircraft might not mean much to you as a general aviation pilot, unless you're on collision course. To mitigate that, NASA has developed collision avoidance technology that was successfully tested in New Mexico recently. Using the unmanned "Proteus," several piloted test airplanes, including an F-18, flew 18 different scenarios, some in groups of two. NASA said that Proteus' sensors notified the aircraft's ground controller, who was then able to divert the craft. The Goodrich SkyWatch HP traffic advisory system acts as the primary sensor. The aircraft also carries radar and infrared sensors.
LINDBERGH AIRPLANE NEARS FLIGHT-TEST STAGE
The Lancair Columbia 300 that Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh, will use to re-create his grandfather's historic solo flights is nearing the flight-test stage. Recently, the "New Spirit of St. Louis" received its wing that was specially modified to carry 300 gallons of fuel. The airplane is to make its maiden flight in within two weeks. The first public appearance of the airplane will be at the Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In next month. On April 14, Lindbergh will launch from San Diego and later cross the Atlantic Ocean after leaving New York. See the Web site.
FAA TO SHUT DOWN WAAS FOR TWO HOURS
The Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) enhancement to GPS will be shut down for two hours and then restarted today (Friday), sometime between 1600 and 2200Z. WAAS improves the accuracy and integrity of the GPS signal and will eventually provide ILS-like instrument approaches into almost every airport. The shutdown is part of the continuing progress toward certifying WAAS for actual IFR operations. Some newer handheld VFR GPS receivers are already using the WAAS signal to improve accuracy, but the temporary loss of the WAAS signal will not significantly affect those users. See AOPA Online.
For daily news updates, see AOPA Online.
| Inside AOPA |
| LONG LEGAL ROAD ENDS FOR MISSOURI AIRPORT |
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal on the closure of Richards-Gebaur Memorial Airport in Kansas City, Missouri. This marks the end of the legal road for the airport, but Friends of Richards-Gebaur vowed to keep working on the political level to reopen it. AOPA had sued the FAA, contending that the agency had abused its discretion when it released Kansas City from its federal obligation to maintain the airport. The Friends of Richards-Gebaur also sued, arguing that environmental regulations hadn't been followed. "We're disappointed that the Supreme Court decided not to consider our arguments," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We still think the FAA acted outside the scope of law in allowing this airport to close. But this shows the tenacity of AOPA and local support groups like Friends of Richards-Gebaur in fighting to keep GA airports open. We lose some, but we win more."
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| On Capitol Hill |
| AOPA SUPPORTS MEIGS LEGISLATION IN SENATE HEARING |
AOPA reiterated its support yesterday for federal legislation that would preserve Chicago's Meigs Field during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. In testimony submitted for the record, AOPA President Phil Boyer said, "The 14 general aviation airports in the area, including Meigs Field, are part of the solution to airspace congestion in the Chicago area and the overall system…. Thanks to support from the aviation community and the leadership of Mayor Daley and Gov. Ryan, Meigs Field will remain open for at least another 25 years if the governor and mayor's agreement on Chicago airports is signed into federal law." The legislation, a revised version of Sen. Richard Durbin's (D-Ill.) National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act of 2002 (S. 2039), incorporates changes sought by AOPA that require the FAA to withhold O'Hare funding unless the FAA administrator is satisfied that Meigs Field "is being operated by Chicago as an airport or has been closed for reasons beyond Chicago's control." The proposed legislation would expand aviation capacity in the Chicago area by expanding O'Hare International Airport, building a new airport at Peotone, and writing into law the agreement between Daley and Ryan to keep Meigs Field open. For more on the hearing, see AOPA Online.
AOPA DISCUSSES WARBIRD PROTECTION WITH KEY CONGRESSMAN
AOPA Legislative Affairs staff met with Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) Thursday to forestall any attempt to add antiwarbird legislation to this year's Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill. Last year action was needed to strike language requiring demilitarization of significant military equipment, including aircraft formerly owned by the Department of Defense. This would have resulted in the destruction of vintage military aircraft. Miller told AOPA he would do whatever it takes to make sure a similar provision is not included in this year's bill. He is sending a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today in which he expresses his "serious concern regarding continued attempts to extend the federal government's demilitarization authority to lawfully possessed surplus military equipment." This follows up on numerous conversations Miller has had with Rumsfeld on this issue. Rumsfeld has repeatedly told Miller that he is aware of the problem and is working to correct it.
| Airport Support Network |
| VOLUNTEER OF THE WEEK—DAVID W. ABBOTT |
Airport Support Network volunteer David W. Abbott's long struggle to restore fuel service at Wetumpka Municipal Airport (08A) in Alabama has come to fruition. The problem began in October 2001 when the FBO owner was fined for failing to adequately monitor for fuel leaks and subsequently stopped selling fuel. Abbott began working with city officials and the mayor in an effort to restore fuel service. In November 2001, the city purchased the FBO. Abbott worked tirelessly by attending meetings and talking with city officials to make sure that the city followed through on its promises to supply fuel. Last month, Abbott was the first pilot to pump avgas into his airplane.
Click here to learn more about the Airport Support Network.
| AOPA Air Safety Foundation News |
| CFI COURSE NOW AVAILABLE FOR NON-INSTRUCTORS |
Ever wonder what's it like to be a CFI? Due to demand, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and Jeppesen are offering their CFI Renewal Online Course to all pilots–not just CFIs–at a reduced price. You can test your knowledge and learn at your own pace for $124. See AOPA Online.
ASF OFFERS Ts TO PLEASE
Besides helping fellow pilots, SkySpotters can now win a T-shirt that says, "Everybody talks about the weather, we're doing something about it." So far, 4,500 pilots have signed up to learn how to give pilot weather reports (pireps). After completing the SkySpotter training program, fill out the online tracking form each time you give a SkySpotter pirep. T-shirts will be awarded randomly to those pilots who participate. See AOPA Online.
| Quiz Me! |
|Here's a question asked by an AOPA member last week of our AOPA technical specialists. Test your knowledge. |
Question: What is pivotal altitude?
Answer: Pivotal altitude is used in performing the "eights on pylon" ground reference maneuver. It is the altitude at which the pylon may be held in a constant position and varies with the square of the groundspeed. Faster speed, such as when heading downwind, results in higher altitude; slower speed, such as heading into the wind, results in lower altitude. To estimate pivotal altitude, square the groundspeed and then divide by 11.3 if you use knots, or 15 if you prefer mph. That will provide a starting altitude. See AOPA Online for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation Instructor Report .
Got a technical question for AOPA specialists? Call 800/872-2672 or e-mail to [email protected]. Send comments on our Quiz Me! questions to [email protected].
| Picture Perfect |
|Did you know you can create a personal e-card using the images from the AOPA Online Gallery? Send one to a friend today. See AOPA Online. |
| What's New At AOPA Online |
|The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's accident statistics for February are now available online. See AOPA Online. |
| ePilot Calendar |
| Check your weekend weather on AOPA Online. |
WEEKEND FLYING DESTINATIONS
AOPA Pilot Town Meeting. The next Pilot Town Meeting featuring AOPA President Phil Boyer
is in Boston April 4. For more information on Pilot Town Meetings, see the Web site.
Indianapolis, Indiana. National Air Transportation Association and Professional Aircraft Maintenance Association Convention takes place March 26 through 28. Visit the Web site for more information.
For more airport details, see AOPA's Airport Directory Online . For more events, see Aviation Calendar of Events
ASF FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR REFRESHER CLINICS
(All clinics start at 7:30 a.m.)
The next AOPA Air Safety Foundation Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are in Norfolk, Virginia; Baltimore; and San Mateo, California, March 23 and 24. Clinics are scheduled in San Diego, Chicago, and Indianapolis, April 6 and 7. For the Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic schedule, see AOPA Online.
ASF PINCH-HITTER GROUND-SCHOOL COURSES
(Pinch-Hitter courses start at 9:30 a.m.)
The next Pinch-Hitterï¿½ Ground School will take place in Frederick, Maryland, on April 13. For more Pinch-Hitter courses, see AOPA Online.
ASF SAFETY SEMINARS
AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Seminars are scheduled in Lake Worth, Florida, March 18; Daytona Beach, Florida, March 19; Ocala, Florida, March 20; Jacksonville, Florida, March 21; and Tallahassee, Florida, March 22. See AOPA Online.
For comments on calendar items or to make submissions, contact [email protected].