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The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) wants nothing to do with a quiet offer from FAA Acting Administrator Bobby
Sturgell to raise the pay of some members and offer other incentives to "settle" ongoing labor strife. The proposed deal was outlined in a memo to FAA managers on Monday. The FAA has declined detailed
comment on the offer but NATCA President Pat Forrey dismissed it as "a desperate attempt by the FAA to try and stem the alarming rate of controller retirements and total attrition" he says is directly
attributable to the contract imposed on the controllers in 2006. He said that until controllers have a negotiated contract, the current exodus of senior controllers is expected to continue. Forrey
also went over Sturgell's head to Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters last week with a letter that expressed the same sentiments. He also asked her to impose flight restrictions at some of the
country's busiest airports if there's no hope of the government returning to the bargaining table. In the letter to Peters, Forrey says he expects at least 1,100 of the agency's most experienced
controllers to head for the doors this year, many of them years before they must legally retire, because they don't like working for the FAA anymore. He asked Peters to call for a new round of
contract negotiations in an effort to stem the flow of retirements. "Soon-to-retire controllers have told us that such negotiations might preclude their exodus," he said. Peters might not have much
time to react. Today is apparently a financially advantageous day for many federal employees to cash in their accrued leave.
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A 737-300 collided with a car on the runway on its takeoff roll Sunday morning, and the crash and the aftermath were caught on video by a passenger in a window seat just above the wing. The video,
posted on YouTube, records a loud smashing sound and apparent turmoil in the cabin. The airplane was stopped on the airport and passengers were evacuated with no reports of injuries. "This was a
serious incident in which the plane was damaged," said Valentin Iordache, a spokesperson for Bucharest's Otopeni airport, according to news24.com. The aircraft, operated by the Romanian airline Tarom, was carrying 120 passengers bound from
Romania to a resort area in Egypt. It apparently struck a car that had been driven onto the runway to check the lighting. Visibility was poor due to thick fog. "A disaster was avoided thanks to the
crew's professionalism," Tarom spokesman Gheorghe Barla told news24. He said the vehicle left on the runway was privately owned and had been "forgotten" there, and the control tower was unaware of its
The accident is under investigation and no official cause has been determined.
The lead NTSB air safety investigator looking into last weekends fatal crash in California of a Cirrus SR22 Turbo piloted by Cirrus salesman Thomas Leveque told AVweb that she has "no
reason to believe there was loss of any flight control prior to impact."
Investigator Zoe Keliher, who works out of the NTSBs Gardena, Calif., office, said shes "focused on finding good reliable witnesses" and has already interviewed Leveques close
friend, who told her Leveque was flying from San Carlos to Paso Robles on Sunday with the intention of spending the weekend with the friend and his wife. The friend told Keliher that Leveque flew past
his house at 1,000-2,000 feet AGL, "as he had done many times before." Just prior to the fly-by, Leveque reportedly called the friend from his cellphone and "after a quick exchange, he hung up and the
witness saw him do a series of descents and ascents followed by a turn, and the crash was shortly thereafter." Keliher said whats left of the badly charred aircraft has been delivered to a
storage yard near Los Angeles. Leveque was Western Region sales rep and demo pilot for Cirrus and the aircraft crashed on a ranch near Creston, Calif. Keliher, who is also a pilot and has investigated
other Cirrus events, said she found a chip from the planes MFD that might contain additional information about the aircrafts condition but shes "not hopeful" due to the fire damage.
Keliher said her preliminary report will be available on the NTSBs website "in a couple of days." Leveque's death came days after Cirrus employees mourned the loss of another worker in Duluth
who died of medical problems.
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Garmin International told its dealers this week that the GNS480 GPS navigator will be discontinued due to declining sales, a development many owners had feared. Compared to Garmin's mega-selling
GNS430 and 530 series navigators, the 480 sold in fractional numbers. But according to our sister magazine, Aviation Consumer, the product had a small but loyal following due to its unique flight
management system-like capabilities, including a database with airways as a route option. Garmin acquired what was then the CNX80 when it bought UPSAT in 2003. UPSAT developed the technology for the
first WAAS-capable navigators for light-aircraft GA and the CNX80 was WAAS ready long before Garmin's bigger selling boxes were. However, once the WAAS-capable GNS430W and 530W became available,
CNS480 sales tanked. Garmin's Jessica Myers told AVweb that Garmin will continue to support both the CNX80 and GNS480 for "years and years," but that no new units will be sold once existing stock is
gone, which is likely to be in 2008.
NASA and the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency project (CAFE) have partnered to create a new $300,000 Personal Air
Vehicle Challenge for 2008. It will be a "Pentaviathon" that aims to advance five vital general aviation technologies: noise reduction, fuel efficiency, speed, safety and ease of use. This year,
the event introduces its first-ever "Green Prize," which organizers say will test true "Environmental Efficiency." The $50,000 Green Prize will reward the competing aircraft that scores the highest
MPGe, or equivalent miles per gallon, a measure based upon fuel price, fuel density and payload, after flying a CAFE 400 race course. Other prizes will recognize technological achievements in the five
main categories, with special awards for light sport aircraft.
Registration for the event opened on Dec. 23. The competition will be conducted at CAFE's Flight Test Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., from Aug. 2 to 10. More details and information for competitors
can be found online.
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The future of a small municipal airport in Biddeford, Maine, will go
on the ballot this year, so voters can decide if it should stay or go. The City Council is expected to decide
this week whether a special election will be held, or if the question can wait until the general election in November. Opponents have argued that the airport costs the city money, and it would be
better to sell the land to a developer for a few million dollars of profit. Mayor Joanne Twomey told the Sun Chronicle she will abide by the wishes of voters. "I am a big believer in democracy and the
voice of the people," she said. She added that since there is a successful small airport 20 minutes away in Sanford, maybe Biddeford doesn't really need one. "I see this airport issue as one of
priorities. We have a school that needs attention," she said. "My thought is we need to put our priority list out there." Local EAA and AOPA members have lobbied to preserve the airport, and a group
called Friends of Biddeford Airport has been formed in hopes of convincing the City Council and voters that the airport has value.
But ultimately, the airport's fate may be decided by more mysterious forces -- staffers at the Sun Chronicle asked a Magic 8 Ball, "Will Biddeford residents vote to keep the municipal airport open?" The response: "My sources say 'no.'"
If you've flown commercial lately, you know that spam-in-a-can feeling, but some travelers are finding themselves with room to stretch out aboard aircraft with vacancy rates of up to 89 percent --
thanks to government subsidies that keep the routes profitable for regional airlines serving low-density areas. Lawmakers in Washington recently allocated $110 million to the Transportation Department
to fund the program in 2008. The subsidies have been expanding in recent years, USA Today reported
this week. The newspaper's analysis of where the money goes shows that much of it supports local trips to airport hubs that could easily be replaced with road trips of less than two hours. Aircraft
with up to 24 seats often fly with just a few passengers, and depend on the subsidies to remain profitable. The USA Today story is comprehensive and detailed, but one thing it doesn't mention -- why
not replace those big, empty turboprops with smaller, more efficient GA aircraft? DOT administrators would like to see the program reduced, according to USA Today, but lawmakers continue to raise
funding for it in response to industry lobbying. "Clearly, what we're doing now is not working because the list of cities getting the (subsidized) service is growing," Andrew Steinberg, the DOT's
assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs, told USA Today. "The goal here should be to get sustainable solutions where the marketplace provides service. Unless we change our approach,
the cost will go up."
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Remos Aircraft, of Germany, has expanded its Light Sport Aircraft business in the U.S. with a new assembly plant in Arkansas. The
company has been pushing an effort to entice away buyers of Cessna's SkyCatcher LSA, promising delivery within three months,
much faster than the likely wait time for a new SkyCatcher order, plus a discount for Cessna buyers who switch. "The REMOS G-3 is the airplane that Cessna should have announced at AirVenture, and the
G-3 is available today," said Michael Meirer, CEO of REMOS Aircraft. Meirer said the G-3 also offers a greater useful load -- 695 pounds vs. 490 for the SkyCatcher -- and it is built in Germany, "a
country famous for its efficiency, modern technology and precision in manufacturing." Cessna, meanwhile, has been taking some flak over its decision to build its LSA in China. "Much of the feedback we heard was emotionally charged," Tom Aniello, marketing vice president, writes at the SkyCatcher Web site. Some comment areas at the site had to be taken down due to "non-conforming replies." Aniello
added, "We have complete confidence that Shenyang Aircraft Company (SAC) will build the SkyCatcher to Cessnas rigorous standards for safety, quality, reliability, value, and performance."
Remos has leased a commercial hangar at Rogers Municipal Airport-Carter Field, the Morning
News reported on Monday. The site will be used as a finishing center for the Remos G-3. There are 40 G-3s in the U.S. and 227 worldwide, according to the company. The airplane sells for about
$110,000 to $128,000.
Despite growth in donations to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) of Australia -- contributions have nearly doubled in the last five
years -- the outfit is still not able to provide the services required by remote patients in need, the Adelaide Advertiser reported on Tuesday. The group receives some government support but must raise its own money to pay for the repair, maintenance and replacement of its entire
fleet of 44 aircraft. "Last year the Service flew over 16 million kilometres [almost 10 million miles], therefore these aircraft need to be replaced on a systematic basis, to ensure that they are safe
and economical to operate," says the RFDS. The cost of replacement aircraft has almost doubled since 1997, says the group, due both to the exchange rate of the Australian dollar and the rising cost of
aircraft. RFDS spokesman John Tobin told the Advertiser that requests for service also have been rising, from not only rural residents but urban Australians who are traveling in remote regions and in
need of medical care.
He added that the expectation of onboard medical services is also increasing, and the RFDS needs more money to provide defibrillators and other medical gear onboard. "In the next four years, we
will spend $30 million on aircraft, medical equipment and upgrades to our facilities," Tobin said. "That's indicative of the financial requirement and a lot of that will come from
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Some AVweb readers may remember the effort that went into re-creating the first flight of the Wright Brothers for the 100th anniversary in 2003 -- despite earnest efforts and the assembly of a
crack flight-test and construction team, the project met mixed success at best. But that's not discouraging Craig Russell, a former cargo jet pilot living in Alabama, who has latched on to the even
more daunting mission of re-creating astronaut John Glenn's historic 1962 orbit around the Earth, 50 years later, on Feb. 20, 2012. So far Russell has been shopping the idea around, looking for
supporters. Most have been encouraging but few have written checks. Russell estimates it would cost at least $45 million to buy a new rocket and create a reproduction of Glenn's Mercury space capsule,
complete with parachute for a splash-down landing, but it would be well spent. "You have to believe," he told the Huntsville Times. "People either get it or they don't." If you think you get it, you
can visit Russell's Web site for more info. Russell has attained tax-deductible status, and said he plans to continue the effort at least through
2008. If enough support fails to materialize, he told the Times he may abandon the project. In order to meet his timeline, he would need to procure a space vehicle sometime this year and begin
astronaut training in 2010.
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This month marks the start of the conjoining of the European national air traffic services, as aviation authorities are embraced by the EASA umbrella.
Europe is set for an interesting couple of years as individual aviation authorities -- sometimes with widely differing capabilities -- unite to create pan-European legislation. More as time goes on.
Meanwhile, there have been several program launches and developments and good news as AOPA is resurrected in Iceland.
Concorde is gone, but its legacy is not forgotten. Such is the pulling power of supersonic flight that supersonic bizjet creator Aerion played to
a packed house at its London press briefing in early December. The company has already secured 20 Letters of Intent worth around US$1.5 billion (EUR 1.02 billion) for its US$80 million (EUR 54.4
million) supersonic business jet (SBJ) from customers in key markets including Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the U.S. And it only opened its order book at the Dubai Air Show.
The draw is in the journey times. In the SBJ, New York to Paris flights will take four hours and 15 minutes versus about seven and a half hours in existing subsonic models. Vice chairman Brian Barents
said, "Considering our marketing effort has barely begun, this is a tremendous validation of the aircraft's appeal." According to Barents, Aerion would like to seal a deal with a large, established
OEM by the end of 2008 and get the first six jets off the production line by 2014, shortly after certification. This would cost of around US$2.3 billion (EUR 1.6 billion) in further program
Part of the difficulty airframers have in agreeing to produce the aircraft is that their order books are so jammed that their manufacturing capacity is limited. However, Barents hinted at a further
lure. He said that the technology is "completely scaleable" and the super-midsize aircraft could be the first of a new family. He predicted that the SBJ would become profitable about a third of a way
into its estimated run of 300 aircraft.
Certification is likely to happen quickly because Aerion is using proven technologies and limits to build the aircraft. With a ceiling height of 51,000 feet, the wings will be made from carbon fiber
on a metal airframe to reduce weight. The top speed of Mach 1.6 eliminates the need for special high-temperature materials. Engines are two modified, existing, Pratt & Whitney JD8D-219 powerplants,
which will fly it 4500 nm at subsonic speeds and 4000 nm in the supersonic phase. The jet will have a six-feet, two-inches high stand-up cabin and carry 8 to 12 passengers.
Swiss based ExecuJet has won the rights to sell the jet everywhere apart from North America. CEO Niall Olver 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." ExecuJet is offering 40 early delivery positions to customers, secured by initial deposits of US$250,000
(EUR 170,000). Aerion is selling a further 35 slots to clients in North America.
Piccard's No Fuel
At the other end of the spectrum, another Swiss company -- Solar Impulse -- unveiled the prototype of its solar-powered aircraft last month. The
machine is scheduled to circumnavigate the globe without fuel in 2011, when project leader Bertrand Piccard will fly a second aircraft for a month around the world. Since the aircraft will be airborne
for several consecutive days, part of the challenge is to work out how to keep the pilot alive and kicking.
The current aircraft has a wingspan of almost 200 feet and is slated to fly non-stop for 36 hours powered by solar energy. It will charge up during daylight, using the stored energy at night. Although
the Solar Impulse is not the first solar powered aircraft, it is the most ambitious fuel-free project yet, since no other aircraft has flown throughout the night carrying a pilot
Solar aviation started in the 1970s, when affordable solar cells appeared on the market. In 1980, Paul MacCready in the U.S. developed the Gossamer Penguin, which opened up the way for the Solar
Challenger. That aircraft, with a maximum power of 2.5 kW, succeeded in crossing the English Channel in 1981, then went on to cover distances of several hundred kilometers with an endurance of several
The record for solar powered flight stands at 48 hours non-stop for an aircraft designed by Alan Cocconi, who succeeded in flying an unmanned airplane with a five-meter wingspan for 48 hours non-stop.
Blink -- First Air Taxi in Europe
British air taxi operator Blink intends to become the first such operation to get off the ground in Europe. Based in Farnborough, the firm
announced an order for a fleet of 30 Cessna Citation Mustangs to use for its operations around Europe, making it the largest Mustang customer in the world.
The first aircraft will begin to arrive in May 2008 and will be operated by TAG Aviation (U.K.), which is Europe's largest charter operator. The idea is that people can turn up 10 minutes before
takeoff and jump in the aircraft to secondary cities throughout the continent. Cameron Ogden, managing director and co-founder said, "We are confident in Blink we have the right business at the right
time. Increasingly businesses have pan-European operations that require their executives to move frequently from location to location. We have created a tool that will do that quicker and more
efficiently than any other."
Light aviation accidents are thankfully still rare, but that means they often make national headlines in the U.K. Sadly, there have been two recent, widely reported, unfortunate incidents in the U.K.,
one of which resulted in the deaths of two pilots. In the first, two aircraft were involved in a mid-air collision in the Midlands, killing two people, although three others escaped when they landed
safely at East Midlands airport. The airport was closed for a time after its emergency arrival. The other aircraft, a Luscombe Silvaire, came down in a field near Blithfield Reservoir in
In another accident, a pilot escaped with his life after a Piper twin crashed near an airport in Oxfordshire. The aircraft was en route from Hampshire to Oxford when air traffic control lost contact
shortly after 1700 GMT about four miles from Oxford Airport, Kidlington. The 52-year-old pilot was found three hours later in nearby Wytham Woods and taken to hospital. The aircraft is owned by Air
Medical, an air-ambulance supplies firm based at the airport. The wreckage was found by a police helicopter search team after the Piper had put out a mayday call moments before it crashed. The Air
Accident Investigation Bureau is investigating the incident.
Galileo Financing Found At Last
Galileo -- the European satellite system set up to rival the U.S. GPS network -- has been dogged by delays and in-fighting amongst member states since its inception. There's sunshine on the horizon,
though. Finance ministers of European Member States finally reached agreement on how to finance the system on Nov. 23 and passed a resolution on the new agreements at the EU summit on Dec. 14.
Initially against the proposals, Germany finally accepted the majority decision of the other EU states. The Federal Government was concerned that the EU Commission would ask for a large slice of
funding without fair distribution of work packages. However, the Commission has the work and said that the prime contractor must give at least 40 percent of works to small and medium-sized
The Commission will earmark EUR 2.4 billion to build the system in both space and on the ground. The system will consist of 30 satellites, three of which will be reserves. To date, only one test
satellite has been launched, putting the program five years behind its schedule. The latest plan says that system testing will start in 2008 and be ready by 2010, although the real launch could
possibly be 2013.
Germany's Oldest Female Pilot Dies
More from Germany: Pioneering German aviatrix Elly Beinhorn died Nov. 28 aged 100. For many years she was an honorary member of AOPA-Germany and was an outstanding GA ambassador. Her passion for
flying was kindled in 1928 when Hermann Köhl crossed the Atlantic in a single-engine Junkers W33.
In the spring of 1929 Beinhorn obtained her flying license at Berlin-Staaken and in 1931 flew to Africa in a Klemm KL-26, making an emergency landing on the return flight between Bamako and Timbuktu,
when she had to walk back to civilization with the help of local people.
On her return, Beinhorn announced that she wanted to fly "somewhere to below the right" on the atlas. Out of that "somewhere" she undertook a world flight, through India and Singapore to Australia.
She then packed her aircraft into two large boxes and shipped it to Panama. In 1933 she was awarded the Hindenburg Cup, the highest German aviation distinction. She retired in 1979 at 73, having flown
more than 5000 hours, saying, "52 years are enough."
Finnish Airport Under Fire
IAOPA Europe reports that Malmi Airport near central Helsinki is under threat of closure. It is the only GA airport available to the Helsinki metropolitan area. AOPA-Finland has joined with the
Friends of Malmi Airport (FoMA) to fight to keep airport open. An open petition to save the airport has attracted over 45,000 signatures. The airport is home to the Border Guard, Rescue Department,
Air Force, and Police activities. AOPA-Finland's Klaus Bremer said, "This airport is essential to general aviation in all of Finland and Northwestern Europe. We must save this invaluable airport."
View the FoMA Web site and sign the petition to save this valuable general aviation asset.
AOPA-Iceland Back Up and Running
Finally, AOPA-Iceland has been reactivated. A recent fly-in was held at Mulakot and chairman Valur Stefansson reports that membership is increasing. They also have good interaction and relations with
their CAA. Located at Reykjavik Airport, the organization is working to keep the field open for general aviation, despite opposition from the new mayor of Reykavik. Visit their Web site for more info.
That's it for this month. Best wishes for a prosperous 2008 full of flying.
For more aviation news and information from Europe, read the rest of Liz Moscrop's columns.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to 1st Class Air at KSPI in Springfield, Illinois.
With storms criss-crossing the U.S. for the last few weeks, many of our most glowing recommendations have come from pilots who found themselves trapped in less-than-ideal conditions far from home.
AVweb reader Scott Bartley was in just such a position, stopping at Springfield because of bad weather a little further north. When weather put the kibosh on his flight, the team at 1st
Class air checked in Scott's crew car and got him a rental, and when he need to get back to the plane a day early (just after Thanksgiving!), 1st Class had it ready for the air. "Everything went
smoothly despite my ever-changing plans," writes Scott. "This FBO will remain on my list of planned stops for all trips north."
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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Happy new year! Last week, we asked AVweb readers to cast their eye back over 2007 and tell us which single story had the greatest impact on aviation over the past 12 months.
A few of you pointed out stories that we'd completely overlooked or (just barely) decided not to include on our short list things like the privatization of FSS, the Age 60 Rule being bumped
up to the "Age 65 Rule," the growth of the very light jet market, and the commercial rollout of the Airbus A380. (Be sure to check out Monday's AVmail for a sampling of the great e-mails we received.)
But, when all was said and done, most of our respondents thought the ongoing battle over user fees was the top story of the year. (Although the disappearance of Steve Fossett was a close
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 ***
Let's change gears a bit and ask, What do you think will be the biggest aviation story of the coming year?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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 ***
Even with a bellyful of holiday ham, AVweb
readers know how to start off a new year in style! Join us as we
pore over the the best photos submitted by our readers in the last week
Speaking of familiar names, Michael J. Gallagher
of Peoria, Illinois finds himself in "POTW" for the second week in a row
and his description is almost as riveting as the photo: "The
F-15E Strike Eagle screams overhead and plies through the smoke after
pyrotechnics detonated during the 2007 Rockford, Illinois air show. Shot
from the pyro field."
Kenneth Tomb of Chandler, Arizona
dials it back just a bit, taking us off the air show field and into the
more serene surroundings of Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport,
where "this Spad was recently put on display in Terminal 3 ... to honor
Frank Luke, the Arizona Medal of Honor winner." According to
Kenneth, this aircraft is similar to the one Luke flew in WW1, but was
restored by GossHawk Unlimited in Casa Grande.
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:s: 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.
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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:
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Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
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