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Volume 13, Number 49a
December 3, 2007
Inspiring Daydreams Daily, BoeingStore.com
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Year's Biggest Stories Not Over Yet ...back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the union representing NASA employees who oversaw a controversial pilot safety study, says it was done properly and the data is valid, contrary to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin’s statements to Congress a month ago, according to an Associated Press story. Griffin appeared before a House oversight committee Oct. 31 and said, among other things, that the National Aviation Operations Monitoring System (NAOMS) was flawed because the 8,000 commercial and private pilots were surveyed anonymously and that could have resulted in duplication of safety-related incidents being reported. The contractor that did the study has also defended the veracity of the data, at least some of which is unlikely to be made public because NASA says doing so would violate the confidentiality promises it made. NASA originally intended to keep all the survey results secret but came under pressure from the media and Congress to share what it found out. The data apparently show a much higher rate of safety-related incidents than show up in FAA reports. More...

It is expected that more popular matters might easily absorb the attention of senators through the end of the year and FAA reauthorization -- the government's decision on how the FAA is funded and whether or not you'll be paying user fees -- will await the attention of a new year. As it stands, the Senate Finance Committee is at odds with the Commerce Committee about how the FAA's ADS-B powered "next-gen" airspace management ideal should be funded. The Finance Committee supports the continued use of excise taxes, while the Commerce Aviation Subcommittee has sought departure and additional jet fuel taxes, plus a proposed $25 per flight surcharge. Reauthorization has been extended twice without the formal approval of a new plan. The current deadline is Dec. 14, but insiders stress the main issue is where the funds will come from, not whether the funding will be there. Still, there are other complications. More...

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Noise and Medical Newsback to top 

Already noise-conscious, busy Santa Monica airport (SMO) just north of LAX is set to adopt a city council ordinance prohibiting category C and D aircraft (those aircraft with approach speeds of 121 knots or more, but less than 166 knots) from using its sole 4,973-by-150-foot runway in spite of a letter from the FAA that calls the move "flatly illegal." With a Dec. 5 meeting set for SMO representatives and the FAA, the issue may yet end in court. Category C and D aircraft (Gulfstream IV, Challenger and Citation X aircraft, and the like) account for about 8,500 operations per year at SMO and half of its jet traffic. Violation of the ordinance, which the council says is proposed for safety concerns, would incur a $1,000 fine. The FAA has stated it will use "all available means" to prevent implementation of the ordinance. Proponents say the FAA's own guidelines call for runway safety areas of 1,000 feet at either end of runways accommodating category C and D aircraft. Santa Monica presently has none ... but it does have homes within 300 feet of the runway's ends. More...

The first study on the safety records of pilots taking anti-depressants suggests they're no more likely to crash an aircraft than those who don't need the drugs. The study was done in Australia, the only place it could be done since it's the only country that allows pilots to take anti-depressants and keep their medicals. "There was virtually no difference in the number of incidents or accidents," Professor Kathy Griffiths, a mental health researcher from Australian National University, told a mental-health conference in Australia. "But importantly, there was a tendency for more accidents in the period prior to pilots going on to anti-depressants, but not once they were on them." More...

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Aviation Safetyback to top 

The pilot of an Avid ultralight was killed Saturday when a Cessna 172 flown by a 15-year-old student collided with it from above as both were on final for the same runway at Latrobe Valley Regional Airport in the Gippsland town of Traralgon in Australia. "It appears the Cessna had hit the ultralight while both were attempting to land and the Cessna came in on top of the aircraft during the final approach," Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson told the Sunday Herald Sun. The student pilot was able to land safely without injury but the ultralight "disintegrated on impact," caught fire and left a debris field 500 yards across, according to the newspaper. More...

Nationwide Airlines, which hit the headlines three weeks ago when an engine on one of its aging Boeing 737-200s sheared from the wing on takeoff, has been grounded by South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority on the suspicion that it's using unapproved parts. The CAA says it found some bolts that don't have the correct paper trail and it was investigating the pirate parts possibility when the 737 lost the engine Nov. 7. The flying pilot, Trevor Arnold, is up for an award from the South Africa Airline Pilots Association, for his actions during the emergency. More...

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Retirement and Incarcerationback to top 

After 43 years and 150,000 takeoffs and landings (!), 74-year-old crop-duster Don Taylor says it's time to take on some milder pursuits — like skydiving, hang gliding, scuba diving and the little aerobatic aircraft he's building. "If it was just up to me, I'd still be up there," Taylor told the Idaho Statesman as he reflected on one of the longest crop-dusting careers ever recorded. "Flying has always been a miracle to me." More...

An individual has been charged after $5,000 worth of headsets were stolen from an aircraft that he allegedly drove off a taxiway and into a soybean field at La Porte City (Indiana) Airport. The arrest is likely among the preferred results after the aircraft's operator (presumably the alleged thief) failed to negotiate a turn from taxiway to runway and got stuck in the field. The alleged thief was charged with Class D felony theft and also as a Class C felony habitual traffic offender, but it seems that criminal mischief may be the charge that applies to damage done during the theft -- chopped soybean plants and associated aircraft damage. More...

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India's Booming Pilot Populationback to top 

U.S. ATPs who hit the age 60 wall at home can be flying for a living again in "a few days" in India thanks to a new certification process there. India is scrambling for qualified pilots as its industry grows and the deep well of experience from the U.S. is an obvious target (since Congress hasn't yet dealt with its own plans to raise the mandatory retirement age to 65). "In most countries, pilots from the U.S. who have crossed 60 years are allowed to fly anyway," unnamed "officials" told Daily News and Analysis, under the headline Soon, More Senior Citizen Pilots In Indian Skies. More...

Yes, you read that right. As international organizations sound the alarm over a worldwide pilot shortage, as regional airlines in the U.S. and Australia cut routes because they lack cockpit crews and as airlines the world over shamelessly poach pilots from competitors, young pilots in India say there’s just too many of them. "Things are going from bad to worse," Gautam Singh, who’s been in the right seat of a budget carrier’s aircraft for 18 months, told The Times of India "But if I leave, there are 10 freshers waiting to take my place." More...

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News Briefsback to top 

Singapore air force officials were red-faced last week after a ground test by the elite Black Knights air demonstration team left a lasting impression on its neighbors. According to air force officials quoted by the Straits Times, the Black Knights were trying out a new dye intended to create a red smoke trail from their F-16s. However, it also turned about 200 tons of unharvested vegetables, numerous cars, and anything else in its path (including a pet cat) varying shades of red, after high winds carried the smoke over the neighborhood. More...

NASA criticized for giving away engines ...
Cessna sued over Caravan crash ...
Students invited to describe airplane of the future. More...

XM WX Satellite Weather Uses a Continuous Satellite Broadcast to Deliver Graphical Weather Data to the Cockpit
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New on AVwebback to top 

Columns | Features | What's New | Calendar | Brainteasers

The warbird circuit will start seeing a new "snake" in the air, and AVweb's Rick Durden got to fly with a Cobra charmer. More...

In last Monday's AVwebAudio podcast, we spoke with aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, whose consistent message has been that very light jets and the air taxi business they are helping to spawn will not be the market explosion that some are claiming. Well, as you might expect, there are differing opinions on that topic, and Joe Leader, president of the Air Taxi Association is one of the industry's prominent spokesmen. He spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles from VLJ West, a forum for owners and operators of the new jets held in San Diego earlier this week. More...

It's autumn at AVweb world headquarters, and we're already opining the passage of air show season. We've shared lots of great air show clips in the last few weeks, but today we'll shift our scale back just a bit and marvel at the radio-controlled aerobatics of a B-29 bomber at the 2003 Southeast Electric Flight Festival (SEFF). We stumbled across this at Classic Wings but mirrored it on YouTube to spare their bandwidth a huge hit. James Larkey, if you're out there, chime in, and we'll send you a hat! (Click through to watch.) More...

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We Couldn't Do It Without Our Readersback to top 

AVMAIL: DEC. 3, 2007
Reader mail this week about instructor shortages, mechanics' liability, Cessna's China connection and more. More...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. What have you heard? More...

Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, will soon publish an in-depth report on aircraft batteries. As part of that report, the magazine would like to hear about your experiences with aircraft batteries -- good, bad or otherwise. To take part in our online survey, click here. More...

StickyCharts — No Tape or Thumbtacks Required
Your favorite FAA charts beautifully printed on removable adhesive backing. Easily map your route with dry-erase markers. Up to 4 feet tall, StickyCharts are delivered in a sturdy tube in time for the holidays. They make a great gift for the "hard-to-shop-for" pilot. Go online to order at StickyCharts.com.
Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Montgomery County Aviation at KLOM's Wings Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

AVweb reader Brett Justus recommended the FBO, telling us that "'Brotherly Service' is abundant at this FBO":

I received exceptional service all the way around. Most notably, though, I needed a quick aircraft wash for some important clients the next morning (potential investors), and there was only an hour and a half of daylight left. The entire staff jumped on it immediately to get it done and charged a ridiculously low price. Definitely the place to land if you're going to Philly!

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!


There's Only 22 Shopping Days — Choose Gifts from AVweb's Holiday Marketplace
When purchasing gifts for family, friends, and flying buddies, go to AVweb's Holiday Marketplace. AVweb is the place to find perfect gifts for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. And for yourself — forward the link to your family and friends as a hint as to what you want! It's easy online, with AVweb!
The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 


Romance in the air is alive and well. While on a CAP flight I heard the following over departure control:

Bonanza 123, squawk 4567.

A short while later ...

Bonanza 123, do you have a passenger named [woman's first name] aboard?

Bonanza 123:

Can you put her on? We are holding an important message for her.

Bonanza 123:
Stand by.


Bonanza 123 (woman's voice):
This is [woman's name].

We have been asked to relay a message to you from [man's name] in [aircraft number]. Are you ready to copy?


Bonanza 123 (woman's voice):

[Man's name] sends the following message: "Will you marry me?"

Bonanza 123:
[garbled transmission]

We didn't get that. What is your answer?

Bonanza 123 (woman's voice):
I would be honored.

Bonanza 123, we copy and will relay.


Cap Flight 2237:
Cap Flight 2237 offers best wishes to the bride.

Delta 0000:
Delta 0000 offers best wishes to the bride.

Bonanza 123, Cap Flight 2237 and Delta 0000 send best wishes to the bride.

Bonanza 123 (woman's voice again):Thank you.

CAP Flight 2237:
Nice to know romance on the airways is alive and well. Over 3,000 hours up here, and I never heard anything like that.

Me either. We have never played cupid before.

Tom Simmons


More AVweb for Your Inboxback to top 

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/. More...

Names Behind the Newsback to top 


AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

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