AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 13, Number 50b

December 13, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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"Age 60" Rule to Become "Age 65" Rule? back to top 

House Passes Age-65 Bill

The House has unanimously passed a bill that would raise the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots to 65. According to The Associated Press (the actual bill was not available on the Library of Congress Web site at this writing) the proposed legislation, which still has to pass through the Senate, would bring the U.S. in line with the rest of the world. However, it appears there’s an important difference in the House’s version of the legislation compared to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s rule. According to The Associated Press’s understanding of the bill, two 65-year-old pilots could fill left and right seats, where the ICAO says at least one member of the flight crew must be 60 years or less. The bill says that flights bound for other countries must have the ICAO’s mix of relative youth and experience. The Age-65 bill was part of the FAA reauthorization bill that’s now stalled in the Senate. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and his Republican counterpart John Mica, of Florida, agreed to separate the measure from the larger bill in hopes the Senate would pass it quickly. "Each day that passes without raising the retirement age to 65, approximately five of our senior, most experienced pilots will be forced to retire," Oberstar told the House.

PowerLink™ FADEC Certified on Liberty XL-2; Is It Right for Your Aircraft?
Liberty Aerospace is the first certified piston-powered aircraft with PowerLink™ FADEC as standard equipment. PowerLink™ FADEC is now also available for several additional certified and experimental aircraft, including the A-36 Bonanza and VANS RV series. Find out how you can bring your aircraft into the state-of-the-art online.
NATA Commits to Environmental Issues back to top 

NATA Creates New Environmental Committee

With pressure increasing from all quarters for aviation to lighten its load on our ecological systems, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) said on Wednesday it has established an Environmental Committee. The committee will review issues and develop NATA's position for dealing with concerns such as aircraft emissions, carbon offset programs, spill prevention and containment, the environmental impact of de-icing fluid, and changes to the Clean Water Act as they affect aviation businesses. The committee will hold its first meeting Jan. 28, 2008, in Savannah, Ga. Traver Gruen-Kennedy, DayJet's vice president of strategic operations, will preside as chairman. He said this week that the committee will strive to ensure that the industry stays "ahead of the curve" on environmental matters. "Whether it is carbon offset programs to reduce aircraft emissions or the concerns about de-icing fluids' impact on the environment, we are just being inundated with potential conflicts," he said.

NATA President James Coyne added, "There is no doubt that the environmental movement we are seeing today could be the greatest challenge confronting our industry in quite some time. By establishing this new committee, we hope to take a proactive step so that we, as an industry, are prepared to meet any calls for new environmental standards while making certain that common sense and practicability are applied."

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Fast Growth for a Fast Jet Maker back to top 

Aerion SST Orders Take Off

Aerion Corp. took its first order for a supersonic business jet just a few weeks ago, at the Dubai Air Show, but announced on Tuesday that it has now secured orders for 19 jets at $80 million each, totaling over $1.5 billion in commitments. "Considering our marketing effort has barely begun, this is a tremendous validation of the aircraft’s appeal," Aerion Vice Chairman Brian Barents said in a news release. The company said it expects to recruit a manufacturing partner by 2008 and have a certified jet in service by 2014. ExecuJet CEO Niall Olver, who is working with Aerion to help sell the jet, said: "Based on the homework we did prior to entering into this agreement with Aerion, we are not surprised at the number of people coming forward. This is just the tip of the iceberg."

The Aerion supersonic business jet was formally unveiled in October 2004. Since then, the design has been under development with computer models and wind tunnel tests. The jet is designed to cruise at speeds up to 1.15 Mach over land without producing a boom on the ground, and at speeds up to 1.6 Mach in other areas. Over the continental U.S., where regulations require speeds below Mach 1, the aircraft can cruise efficiently just below the speed of sound. The aircraft will seat eight to 12 passengers and have a range in excess of 4,000 nautical miles, the company says.

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News Briefs back to top 

Well-Known Aussie Pilot Dies In Air Tanker Test

Col Pay, regarded as one of Australia’s "legendary" pilots in news reports from there, died last week in a crash while testing a new type of air tanker. Pay was test-flying an Air Tractor 802 air tanker, made in Olney, Texas, when it flipped on a lake. Pay, 75, was evaluating the aircraft, which was reportedly equipped with a system that allows wheel-equipped aircraft to skim the surface of a lake and scoop up water for fighting fires. This type of aircraft is used in the U.S., Canada and Europe for firefighting but the scooping versions are equipped with amphibious floats and pick up water while in a high-speed taxi. Pay’s accident happened while he was scooping water from Lake Liddell in the Hunter Valley. Pay’s company, Pay’s Air Services, has contracts to provide firefighting services in the area and was evaluating the aircraft. The pilot of a second test aircraft, Harley McIllop, witnessed the accident. Australian authorities are investigating and the aviation industry is mourning Pay's loss. He’d been flying for more than 50 years and was a founding member of the Scone Aero Club. "We just can't believe it," Club President Neville Partridge told reporters. "He was such a character, but he could be a cranky bugger, too. He was so experienced, really tough."

LSA Sector Gearing Up For Sebring 2008 Expo

The annual Sport Aviation Expo, focusing on the Light Sport Aircraft world, is coming up soon -- Jan. 17 to 20 in Sebring, Fla. -- and exhibitors are starting to crow about the new products they'll have on display. The fastest-selling LSA, the Flight Design CT, will be there in a new model that the company says has a larger cabin and improved handling qualities. The aerodynamics of the CTLS were completely reworked using full-size wind tunnel tests, so that "[even] less experienced pilots can fly it easily," said Matthias Betsch, CEO of Flight Design. The CTLS also has new landing gear with improved dampening to reduce rebound after touchdown. The Expo will offer visitors a chance to learn about and examine up close a variety of light sport aircraft, from trikes and powered parachutes to the latest fixed-wing models. Free forums provided by EAA cover topics such as how to earn the sport pilot certificate, how to get insurance, and how to choose the right sport aircraft.

General admission is $10 per day, with discounts for children, EAA members, and multi-day passes. Visitors who fly in can camp under the wing for $5 a day.

AFSS Is Up to Speed. And Gaining Altitude.
The new automated flight services system is here. Revolutionizing flight service operations. Reducing legacy sites. Bringing 15 upgraded sites and three hubs online. Retaining 1,200 specialists. Marrying local needs with national information sources. The result: ever-improving levels of performance. And a future of efficient, effective service that give general aviation pilots more flexibility than they've ever thought possible. To see for yourself, visit AFSS.com.
Controllers and Safety back to top 

FAA Shrugs Off NATCA Safety Concern

Two jets landing on perpendicular runways at New York's Kennedy Airport on Sunday afternoon were never in danger of colliding, the FAA said on Tuesday, contradicting an assertion by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association that both aircraft barely escaped a midair. "It was a non-event," FAA spokesman Jim Peters told The Associated Press, after reviewing the radar data. "There was no danger under the conditions that took place Sunday." NATCA spokesman Doug Church told AVweb that a 747 cargo flight was landing on 13L when the crew initiated a go-around. At the same time, an Embraer 135, landing on perpendicular runway 22L, also went around. The two airplanes barely missed each other, Church said. "It was very, very close ... Controllers at JFK do not believe simultaneous approaches to perpendicular runways -- in effect putting planes headed towards one another -- is safe." Peters told the AP that landing on perpendicular runways is not a problem.

The FAA will talk to the controller involved, Peters said. The two runways at JFK do not intersect. Click here for an airport diagram.

Are O'Hare Controllers Overworked?

That's what Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wants Bobby Sturgell, the acting FAA administrator, to find out. On Wednesday, Durbin said he is calling for an immediate investigation into air traffic controller conditions, including staffing levels and fatigue, at Chicago air traffic facilities. Durbin’s announcement follows last week's runway safety report by the Government Accountability Office, which showed O’Hare International Airport had the second-highest number of near-collisions on its runways of any U.S. airport between 2001 and 2006. The report cited air traffic controller fatigue as a key issue affecting runway safety. “Controllers in the Chicago area are retiring at increasing rates and it is clear that the FAA does not have a plan for the future,” said Durbin. “Now the report has backed up what I've been hearing directly from air traffic controllers -- low staffing levels are contributing to controller fatigue and making our runways less safe. It's time to go into these facilities, start asking tough questions and do everything in our power to make air traffic safer.” FAA spokeswoman Tammy Jones told the Associated Press the agency would welcome an outside review of the controllers' situation.

Joseph Bellino, president of the O'Hare affiliate of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, also welcomed Durbin's request. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know they have not staffed our facilities," he told the AP. "They haven't done anything to improve facilities till recently, with hiring some college students who won't be ready for two years."

Question of the Week: The State of Safety

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked about the mania for green living currently sweeping the U.S., wondering aloud if it might be time to curb our flying for the sake of the environment.

For the second week in a row, our readers spoke out loud and clear, with 74% of respondents echoing something most pilots already know — that flying is the most environmentally benign form of transportation, even though that message hasn't yet reached the general public.  (We also got some good e-mail feedback on last week's Question.)

For the complete breakdown of answers, click here.
(You may be asked to register and answer, if you haven't already participated in this poll.)


Amid news of many high-profile near-accidents, we're forced to consider that aviation is becoming a more dangerous activity — or maybe we're only seeing part of the picture in these news reports. What do you think?

Is overall aviation safety headed for a decline?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.

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21st Century Finally Catching Up to the Movies back to top 

Coming Soon — Year Of The SpaceShip

If you have someone on your gift list who's tough to buy for, Neiman Marcus has a suggestion in its 2007 Christmas Book -- a journey into space with Virgin Galactic, for yourself and five friends, going for $1,764,000. Besides three days of preflight training, astronauts will be treated to a four-day post-flight celebration as guests of Sir Richard Branson at his private luxury resort on Necker Island in the Caribbean. It's the "ultimate getaway ... genuinely out of this world," Neiman Marcus promises. Meanwhile, Virgin president Wil Whitehorn spoke at a space conference in the U.K. last week, and said he expects White Knight II to be ready for its first test flight in July 2008, according to Flight International. On Jan. 23, Virgin will unveil the designs for White Knight II as well as SpaceShipTwo. Both ships are already more than half finished, Whitehorn said. "White Knight II will look more like the Virgin Atlantic Globalflyer. We have built all the models to show the public [the finished design in January]," Whitehorn said.

Flight International also reported that Virgin may offer a launch service for satellites to low Earth orbit by 2015, using a third version of the White Knight aircraft design.

Your Jet Pack Is Here (Maybe)

Would you pay $200,000 for an aircraft that could fly for only 10 minutes before you have to stop and refuel? You might, if that aircraft was a James Bond-ish, futuristic jet pack that you can strap on your back and fly. Jet Pack International has been showcasing a working model at sports events around the world, and will start selling a new user-friendly version to the public next year, according to CNNMoney. If you can't wait, or don't have a spare 200 grand, Jet Pack CEO Troy Widgery is hiring professional pilots right now, to fly the demos. "It's a dream job," he told CNN. He plans to start using a jet pack for his daily five-mile commute starting next summer.

The new consumer model will use standard jet fuel, which would cost only about $20 per flight. The cost will include two weeks of training. Click here for videos showing the jet pack in flight.

Get into the Cockpit!
Classic Cockpits is a series of high-quality DVDs that put you into the pilot's seat of some of the world's great airplanes. Be there for engine start, checklists, taxi, take-off, climb, cruise, descent, landing, and more. Titles currently available are: Flying the Legendary DC-3, Flying the PBY Catalina, and Flying the De Havilland Vampire. Order your DVD now online.
News Briefs back to top 

On the Fly ...

The USAF Thunderbirds will perform at Sun n' Fun in April, EAA announced this week ...

In its report on an A340 overrun in Toronto in August 2005, Canada's Transportation Safety Board recommends better crew training and safer overrun areas ...

The 50th anniversary of NASA and encouragement for more women to join the pilot community will be among the many attractions in the works for EAA AirVenture 2008, EAA said this week.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

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. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

Collier Trophy Collectible Medallion Series 3 Now Available
NAA's Collier Trophy Centennial Medallion Series 3 is now available for gift-giving or for your own collection, along with Series 1 and 2. A commemorative card encases a heavy metal medallion showing the Collier Trophy on one side and an image of the F-22 Raptor on the reverse. Series 1 reverse shows SpaceShipOne, and Series 2 reverse shows the Eclipse 500. Visit NAA's merchandise section to view and order.
New on AVweb back to top 

Probable Cause #47: Departure Denial

While it's natural to focus on the weather at the destination, it's important not to overlook what's happening at the departure airport.

Click here for the full story.

A Pilot's History: Chap. 4 -- Path To Victory

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As the Japanese military is pushed back, Carl Moesly and his crews have to land in zero/zero island weather, as he recounts in the fourth chapter of his flying career.

Click here for the full story.

Artful Flying, Perfect Gift for Friends or Yourself
Artful Flying, the award-winning book by AVweb's former As the Beacon Turns columnist Michael Maya Charles, will show you how to turn your hours and hours of cockpit moments into a lifetime of art. This is no ordinary "how-to" text! Order online today and receive complimentary ground shipping.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Specialty Flight Training (KBDU, Boulder, CO)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Specialty Flight Training at KBDU in Boulder, Colorado.

AVweb reader David W. Douglas praises the Specialty Flight team for stepping up to the plate when he arrived late on a Friday afternoon:

I ... needed to hanger my Cirrus due to incoming weather ... and Specialty was kind enough to move one of their own planes outside and put in mine. The owner, Lonnie, was very kind and his FBO was pristine! There was a big frost that night and his kindness helped me be able to leave the next day without concern for frost/snow.

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!

Did Your Battery Die? Tell Us About It

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.

Only 12 Shopping Days Left — Here's a Gift Idea for the Pilot on Your List
For example, you can give the gift that may save a life! CO Guardian portable carbon monoxide detectors are small, simple, and affordable. For this and many more gift ideas, go online to AVweb's Marketplace.
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings.  The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week."  Want to see your photo on AVweb.com?  Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.


You could say Christmas has come early to "Picture of the Week" headquarters.  With 120 incredible photo submissions, it feels like we've been opening electronic presents all day!  (Or were we supposed to open one a day over the next 12 days?)

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copyright © Michael S. Whaley
Used with permission

Merry Pittsmas!

Ye olde "POTW" editor has been waiting for the first photo of an airplane decked out in holiday lights, and here it is, courtesy of Meboure, Florida's Mike Whaley — and the EAA, who decked out Linn Walters's Pitts S1 for this Valkaria Airport float in the Melbourne Light Parade.

Hmm — why doesn't our parade have any luminescent airplanes?


medium | large

copyright © Nicholas Stolley
Used with permission

So Long, Red Baron Squadron — You Will Be Missed!

Nicholas Stolley of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shares our disappointment at "the recent news that Schwan's has decided to discontinue marketing with the Red Baron Squadron." Nicholas was lucky enough ride along with the Barons on a 2003 demo flight, which is where he snapped this photo.

(Would it help if we promise to eat more pizza?)


medium | large

Used with permission of Ron Bridges

Peaceful Pond of Paradise

Ron Bridges of Knoxville, Tennessee took this shot during the annual Pellissippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival. He tells us Kevin Knapp is piloting the Mayflower balloon, but it's hard to be sure from this distance ... .


medium | large

copyright © Don Parsons
Used with permission

'Tis the Season

Don "Ice-Man" Parsons of St. Peters, Missouri reminds us that the Midwest is already feeling the chill of winter.

And as much as we'd love to take credit for Don's new nickname, it was his own play on the icy Missourian photo.  Around the office, we prefer to call him "Goose."  But that's just us.


medium | large

Used with permission of Greg Soaper

Moonlit Night

There seems to be a chill in the air in almost all of this week's submissions, including this one from Greg Soaper of Fullerton, California.  Time to hunker down, start doing your winter maintenance, and dream of next summer, AVwebbers.

If you can't wait that long, there are sure to be some more sunny photos in the "POTW" slideshow on AVweb's home page.  Why not take a peek?

We'll see you here next week — same AVweb-time, same AVweb-channel!  Don't forget to send us your photos!

A quick note for submitters:  If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week!  That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too.  ;)

A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.

More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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/.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.