AVwebFlash - Volume 13, Number 51a

December 17, 2007

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Regional Fly-Ins Losing EAA as Co-Pilot? back to top 

Texas Fly-In Cancelled — EAA Decision Cited

Organizers of the Texas Fly-In (aka the Southwest Regional Fly-In) in Hondo, Texas, have decided to cancel future events. According to a letter to volunteers and directors also emailed to AVweb, they say they believe that EAA will no longer allow regional fly-ins to use its name as part of the shows' branding, nor will it cover them under its insurance. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski told AVweb the relationship between EAA and the fly-ins was discussed a few months ago with organizers of the fly-ins but he said the statement released by the Texas group "did not accurately reflect those discussions." He said the top priority is to strengthen the fly-ins as individual events but EAA is still supporting the events. "Part of the discussion was finding way to make these fly-ins viable for the long term for both EAA and the local groups that organize them, in light of the changing needs for facilities, volunteers, insurance and other items," he said. He also said no firm decisions have been made based on the most recent discussions. Texas volunteer Mark Stull, who emailed the statement on behalf of President Stan Shannon told AVweb he believes other fly-ins will also fold. In the letter Shannon said there were other factors in the decision to cancel next year’s event. He said it’s tougher to get volunteers and attendance has been dwindling. The organization has money in the bank and intends to focus its attention of supporting youth in aviation through a scholarship program.

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Maine Clarifies "User Tax" back to top 

Maine Tax Explained — By Maine

Aircraft owners can still explore the wonders of Maine without being taxed on their airplane but they do have to follow the rules, according to a senior Maine tax official. David Bauer, of Maine’s Bureau of Revenue Services, told AVweb his department and other government offices have received "huge volumes of e-mail and phone calls" since AVweb carried the story about Massachusetts resident Steve Kahn’s battle with Maine over its "User Tax." Bauer said the story left the incorrect impression that any visit by an out-of-state aircraft would trigger the tax. "The bottom line is that you should plan carefully if you intend to fly into Maine, and spend more than 20 days in Maine, within one year after the initial purchase of your aircraft and you have not paid a sales or use tax on the aircraft in another state," Bauer said.

There’s nothing new about Maine’s use tax and it also applies to other items of "tangible personal property" like boats (with a 30-day grace period) and, in certain circumstances, cars. Aircraft are perhaps easier to track than other items because most flights leave an FAA paper trail. However, the tax does not apply to any item purchased more than a year before its entry to Maine. There’s also an exemption for aircraft undergoing "necessary" repairs or maintenance (paint and interior work don’t count, for the most part). But Bauer said the vast majority of aircraft owners need not fear the tax. "In most situations, nonresidents flying into Maine do not owe the tax and are not at risk of being assessed," he said. "There are circumstances where a tax will be due, but that is the exception, not the rule." Bauer has promised to enlighten us on Maine’s justification for the tax next week.

Click here for the details of Maine's use tax.

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More Top News back to top 

Age-65 Law Signed By Bush

It’s amazing how fast things can move in Washington when the right people want them to, as older pilots discovered to their almost universal delight late Thursday. On Tuesday morning, a proposal to raise the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots to 65 was mired in a political scrap over how the FAA should be funded. On Thursday, it was the law of the land, and a welcome birthday present for American Airlines pilot Frank Walters, one of a handful of pilots who woke up Thursday on their last day of work and went to bed with five years left in their careers "I'd been waiting for the legislation to pass," Mr. Walters told The Dallas Morning News. "I just didn't know when." Late Tuesday, the House voted to approve a separate bill on the retirement age and the Senate followed suit on Wednesday. President Bush signed the new law on Thursday night. While it’s probably safe to say that most older pilots supported the career extension, most pilots unions did not and the Allied Pilots Association wrote an 11th-hour appeal to Bush asking him to veto the bill. "Mandatory age 60 retirement for our nation's commercial airline pilots has proven to be a highly effective safety regulation since its establishment in 1959," APA President Lloyd Hill wrote. His counterpart at Southwest Airlines, Carl Kuwitzky, disagreed. "Experience counts," he told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The legislation will enhance safety by ensuring we keep our most experienced pilots flying longer."

Nitrogen Used To Fill Aircraft Oxygen Systems

Airlines all over the world are being warned to check to make sure there’s actually oxygen in their aircraft oxygen systems after an embarrassing mix-up by Qantas Airlines at Melbourne International Airport. For ten months, crews have been filling airliner oxygen systems from a nitrogen cart that’s supposed to be used to fill tires. The mistake went unnoticed until a couple of weeks ago when an observant aircraft engineer spotted service workers using the cart. "He was walking around the plane and asked what they were doing. When they said they were topping up the oxygen, he said, 'No you're not, that's a nitrogen cart,'" an unnamed source told The Age. As anyone who works with industrial gases knows, oxygen tanks have different fittings than other gases to prevent exactly this kind of mix-up. However, when the crews discovered the fittings on what they thought was their new oxygen cart didn’t fit, they swapped them for the ones on the old cart they were retiring. Of course, Australian officials are looking into the error and Qantas has been busy notifying other airlines that use its services in Melbourne. Hundreds of aircraft may be affected.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Fatigue Grounds F-15s — Pilots Get Rusty

Many of the Air Force’s F-15 pilots will lose their currency in coming weeks as the Air Force looks for fatigue damage that has already brought down one of the aging fighters. As they do their best to stay in flying form in simulators, the pilots are up against Air Force rules that require at least one landing every 30 or 45 days, depending on experience, to maintain currency, according to The Air Force Times. Most F-15s were grounded after the Nov. 3 in-flight breakup of a Missouri Air National Guard Eagle. The planes were returned to service briefly in November before being grounded again for more inspections. Pilots who didn’t get a flight during the brief window in November will likely have to get current before returning to operational status when the planes are cleared to fly. In the meantime, Gen. John Corley, the commander of Air Combat Command and an F-15 pilot himself, is urging pilots to do whatever they can to keep their edge. "While I know that a number of you will lose currencies and the ability to maintain the proficiency that the world has come to expect," Corley wrote in a letter to the pilots, "I ask that you don't lose your focus. Trust that your leadership is keeping a watchful eye and will be poised to execute a plan that will put all of you back in the air as fast as safely possible." F-15 pilots normally fly nine to 12 times a month. To become current, pilots will have to demonstrate proficiency with an instructor shadowing them.

Rotax Announces Global Training Standards

As the Light Sport Aircraft category gathers steam in the U.S. and similar categories continue to grow in other countries, Rotax’s line of small aircraft engines have become the overwhelmingly popular engine of choice. In keeping with the global reach of the products, the company has introduced a set of training standards for maintenance and repair of the engines by independent technicians (called independent Rotax Maintenance Technicians or iRMTs) who want to work on them. "Beginning January 1, 2008, all 'Authorized Training Organizations' will have to meet the new minimum standards established by BRP-Rotax to adequately qualify an iRMT and issue the appropriate certificates listing each individual’s specific rating," the company said in a news release.

Rotax distributors will train third-party training organizations to deliver the programs, which will lead to technicians earning certificates in service, maintenance, heavy maintenance and overhaul. Qualified technicians will be listed on the www.Rotax-Owner.com Web site so customers will know where to look for service. "The goal of the iRMT programs is to expand the availability of qualified technicians in the field trained to a specific standard to Service Rotax products world wide," the company said.

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Filling Your Tanks back to top 

AOPA Battles Fuel-Related Accidents

There’s nothing funny about running out of gas in flight but, since nothing else has stemmed the sputtering of fuel-starved engines, AOPA is trying a humorous approach. The association is running a series of online public service announcements that take a funny approach to one of the most serious aviation safety problems. "Flying is as safe as you choose to make it and fuel management accidents should be among the simplest to remedy," said Bruce Landsberg, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. "But nearly three accidents happen each week because of fuel exhaustion or starvation. It’s not a record we should be proud of." The ads poke fun at the issue by depicting an airline pilot notifying passengers that he thinks they’ll have enough fuel to get to Hawaii and another ad shows a pilot giving an environmental excuse for running out of gas. The spots also mark the first time online video has been used to get a safety message out. The ads run less than a minute and shouldn’t clog your bandwidth.

A Trip To Remember?

For most people, a month-long trip around the world with a dozen flights to exotic destinations would be something to remember. But participants in the World’s Biggest Pub Crawl may have to rely on something other than their threatened brain cells to recall the adventure. The trip, billed as a chance "to see the world through the bottom of a glass," begins in March in London and ends a month later with the liver-worn troupe catching a flight back to England from Cancun. In the meantime, they’ll have been to 12 destinations identified as party hot spots and visited more than 60 drinking establishments. "Get ready for the ultimate drinking and travel experience," the promotional material reads. The all-inclusive cost is about $10,000 USD and some flights on the itinerary are almost full.

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New on AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #77: The Team

Each aircraft type in the career of an airline pilot has a story. Not necessarily a good story, but AVweb's CEO of the Cockpit will tell it anyway ...

Click here for the full story.

Five Crosswind Traps

Crosswind landings can be tricky if you don't understand what can go wrong. Do you know how to avoid these five common crosswind traps?

Click here for the full story.

Washington Airport Rises Above Flood

Click for a larger image

Anyone who’s been to the Northwest (especially at this time of year) knows that it can rain there like few other places and local residents, including the flying fraternity and sorority, have come up with some interesting coping mechanisms. A prime example is the work of the folks at the Chehalis-Centralia airport in Washington. They built a raised gravel area to park their planes on when the nearby Chehalis and Newaukum rivers get their fill of the weather, as they did on Dec. 3.

As the photo shows, some very precise parking enabled 49 aircraft to park on the elevated area. There’s no word on damage to buildings, runways or taxiways.

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Readers' Voices back to top 

AVmail: Dec. 17, 2007

Reader mail this week about green aviation, touch and goes, A Pilot's History and more.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

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.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Flightstar at Willard Airport (CMI) (Savoy, Illinois)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Flightstar at Willard Airport (CMI) in Savoy, Illinois.

AVweb reader Geoffrey Morsell recently dealt with some "winter weather" in that area and heaps praise on the team at Flightstar for helping him cope:

I arrived at CMI just prior to a week-long freezing rain event. We were scheduled to be in CMI for three days, and as luck would have it the forecast was correct; during our stay everything was coated with ice! On the morning of our scheduled departure, I called to request the aircraft be placed in a heated hanger to remove the ice coating. To my surprise, the CSR informed me that the plane had been put in a heated hanger several days ago in anticipation of our depature!

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!

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AVweb Media: Watch, Listen, Learn & Laugh back to top 

AVweb's Monday Podcast: Liberty Comes to China

File Size 9.6 MB / Running Time 10:31

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Some of the biggest news in U.S. aviaition has come out of China in the last couple of weeks. A week after Cessna announced it was building its 162 SkyCatcher there, Liberty Aerospace announced a deal to build 600 copies of its XL-2 two-place touring and training aircraft in a plant to be built by a company half-owned by the Chinese government. While both aircraft will be built in China, that's where the similarity in the two deals ends. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Liberty Aerospace CEO Keith Markley about how this deal is a major boost to the company's U.S. operation.

Click here to listen. (9.6 MB, 10:31)

Video of the Week: Radio-Controlled Vectored-Thrust Turbine Mig 29

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Before you ask: Yes, we have been watching a lot of radio-controlled airplane videos lately. When you see the one we've selected as the "Video of the Week," we think you'll agree that it's paying off. Courtesy of YouTube user cavemodels, we give you what may be the world's first vectored-thrust R.C. aircraft:

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Returning to Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York on New Year's Day, I heard the following exchange on the air between the tower controller and the pilot of a Piper Arrow:

"Republic tower, Arrow One Two Three Four Five, eight miles north, inbound with India."

"Arrow Three Four Five, report right downwind runway 32."

"Any chance we can get a straight in?"

"You said you were north, didn't you?"

"Yes, seven miles north."

"Arrow Three Four Five, the only way I can give you a straight in for Runway 32 is if you turn north and continue for about 24,000 miles."


"Uh, okay. Sorry. Happy New Year ... ."

Daniel A. Torres
Baldwin, New York

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.