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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 theres an
important difference in the Houses version of the legislation compared to the International Civil Aviation Organizations rule. According to The Associated Presss 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 ICAOs mix of relative youth and experience. The Age-65 bill was part of the FAA reauthorization bill thats 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.
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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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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
aircrafts 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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Col Pay, regarded as one of Australias "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. Pays accident happened while he was scooping water from Lake Liddell in the Hunter Valley. Pays company, Pays 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. Hed 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."
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.
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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.
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.
Durbins announcement follows last week's runway safety report by the Government Accountability Office, which showed OHare 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."
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.
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,
(You may be asked to register and answer, if you haven't already
participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
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
Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to
NOTE: 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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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.
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.
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 email@example.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
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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.
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.
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.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
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
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?
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.
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 ... .
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
We'll see you here next week same AVweb-time, same AVweb-channel!
Don't forget to
send us your
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,
send us an e-mail.
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/.
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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief 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.