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The chairman of the Indian River County Commission, Gary Wheeler, says a deal is all but sealed to keep Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach. Wheeler said the commission will vote Jan. 15 on a $12 million
incentive package, which, if approved as expected, will be enough to keep the planemaker and its 1,100 existing and 500 future employees in the resort community. "Everything's ironed out and ready for
approval for the county commission," Wheeler told The Palm Beach Post.
Piper officials have not confirmed that the company is staying. Piper announced in late 2006 that it was shopping for a new location (or a new deal) to take advantage of incentives that are commonly
doled out by communities interested in having airplane factories in their midst. The announcement came with the introduction of the PiperJet, which will require its own factory and another 500
workers. The company narrowed down its search to Vero Beach, Albuquerque and Oklahoma City. Wheeler said the local incentive package and the cost of relocating or training employees for a new factory
combined to make the economic case for staying in Vero Beach. There's no word on when an official announcement will be made.
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The Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights (CAPBOR) has compiled and made available on its Web site a spreadsheet that the group claims brings some clarity to the results of NASA's controversial National Aviation Operational
Monitoring Service (NAOMS) project. NASA collected surveys from
more than 30,000 pilots between 2001 and 2004, including 4,777 responses from general aviation pilots. But it's unlikely anyone looking at the results could conclude much from the data in its raw form. CAPBOR founder Kate Hanni and researcher Mark Mogel told
AVweb that their group does not have the resources to reformat the general aviation responses, but hopes that by publishing the
spreadsheet they can increase political pressure on the FAA and the airlines. "Pilots have told us that a lot of the answers to these questions are simply because of pilot fatigue," Mogel told
AVweb, referring to the responses, which included reports of runway
incursions and loss of visual separation from other aircraft in flight. "We're not trying to terrify people, we're just trying to tell the truth," Hanni said. NASA initially refused to release the
data on the grounds that doing so could damage public confidence in airline travel, but agreed to unleash the data by the end of 2007 after being hounded by The Associated Press, which had filed a
freedom of information request. During a Dec. 31 news conference, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said NASA has no intention of analyzing the data.
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South Africa has revised pilot training and examination standards to try and stop an upward spiral of accident rates that generally bucks the trend of other countries with active GA communities.
Starting Jan. 1, flight schools had to follow a standardized training syllabus and administer standardized exams that are in line with training in other countries. Until then, it was up to individual
schools to decide what was taught and what was tested. Fatalities in GA accidents doubled from 18 to 36 from 2005 to 2007 and all other accident indicators were on the rise, but there was still some
lingering defense of the ad hoc training system. The Civil Aviation Authority noted that the number of GA pilots increased by at least 10 percent in that time period and suggested that mitigated the
toll somehow. Despite the rather unusual training and compliance standards, the basic causes of South African GA accidents sound pretty familiar to those of us who have lived under more conventional
systems. "The leading cause of accidents has been human factors. By that we don't mean just pilot error. We look at things like mechanical failure due to the cutting of corners during maintenance,
operators who put profits above safety and pilots who fly without enough fuel in reserve," Gilbert Twala, the CAA's chief accident investigator, said.
Millen Aviation Services of Kent, England, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 17, 2007, against Diamond Aircraft Industries in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, over their Thielert diesel-powered DA40s. "The claim for
damages is based on our experience with our two DA40 1.7 TDIs, their extremely poor reliability, high
maintenance costs, waiting time for spare parts and, our firm belief of their premature release to market without sufficient research, development and testing," company partner Mike Millen said in a
prepared statement. Diamond did not immediately respond to AVweb's request for comment. Millen would not comment on the specifics
of the suit or what damages his company seeks from Diamond, but told AVweb that an Austrian court has already appointed a judge to hear the case and that Diamond Aircraft has until Jan. 17 to
the lawsuit. Millen said the DA40s remain on Millen Aviation's flight line at the Rochester Airport along with two Cessna 172s that are powered by their original Lycoming engines.
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Survivors of the crash of a Piper Chieftain that killed six people off Kodiak Island in Alaska last weekend say the nose baggage door came open as the aircraft was taking off. The plane crashed into
the ocean about 100 yards from the end of the runway and a taxiing floatplane picked up the four surviving passengers. Opening baggage doors have been cited as factors in two previous Chieftain
crashes in Alaska, according to The Juneau Empire. In both previous incidents the door came loose and hit
the wing or propeller, resulting in the crash. It's not clear if that happened in this accident and NTSB investigator Clint Johnson refused to speculate on the door's role in the accident. The Servant
Air flight was carrying a group of Russian Orthodox faithful to an Orthodox Christmas celebration at Homer, Alaska. Meanwhile, the FAA has cleared another Alaska carrier of wrongdoing in another
high-profile accident there last summer. Five of nine people aboard a SeaWind Aviation Beaver died when the aircraft went down shortly after takeoff from Traitors Cove, 27 miles north of Ketchikan,
on Aug. 16. According to company spokesman Jack Davies, the FAA concluded that none of its regs had been violated and it's closed its file. The NTSB is continuing its investigation and the report
probably won't be out until next summer. Weather may have been a factor.
It's often said that aircraft accidents are the result of a series of seemingly innocuous events strung together and the crew of a Qantas Boeing 747 might agree with that. The flight from London to
Sydney was 15 minutes from touchdown for a scheduled stop at Bangkok when it lost power from all four engine-driven generators. Backup batteries kept all those displays in front of the pilots glowing
through a safe landing but the battery power likely wouldn't have lasted more than another 45 minutes and that would have knocked out the radios and all of the electronic instruments. "In this case it
looks as if it has gone to the last stage of emergency power for communication and navigation," Dr. Arvind Sinha, director of aerospace at RMIT University in Melbourne, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"After that it comes down to the skill and experience of the crew." He added that the loss of all four generators is "unheard of" but Murphy can and does find a way, this time through a sink with a
clogged drain in the first-class galley. [more] The sink is right over the electrical distribution unit and Boeing engineers evidently considered the potential for leaks when they put it there. A drip
tray is installed to catch any overflow from the sink but the tray on this aircraft was cracked. The water (likely loaded with soaps, acids and other electrolytic substances) leaked through the crack
and into the power unit, shorting out the whole works. Qantas fixed this airplane and checked all others before letting them in the air again. Qantas spokesman John Borghetti said the crew did as it
was trained to do to arrive at a safe outcome and no similar problems were found on the other planes.
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We've all seen aircraft and various types of vehicles "race" at air shows but authorities in Auckland, New Zealand, cleared both runways at the country's largest airport, without actually closing the airport, to stage just such a spectacle. Now, the Kiwis do love their sport and the race
between an Air New Zealand Boeing 777 and a racing car was to promote an international A1 Grand Prix event at Lake Taupo later this month. Car and plane roared down parallel runways not once but
twice, reaching speeds of almost 200 mph before the 777 wouldn't stay on the ground any longer and the car was running out of runway. The plane won the first race and the car nosed ahead in the second
By all accounts it was well worth the effort to stage the race. Car driver Johnny Reid was clearly thrilled by the experience, which earned generous coverage in the local media (which is what it
was all about, right?). "It was just fantastic, a mind blowing experience. We were running out of revs pretty much just on the limit all the way down the end but we managed to blow the triple seven,"
he said in a television interview. As for the airport, officials said it was the first time in their 42-year history that they've tweaked the schedule of arriving and departing flights to "squeeze in"
something like this. Air New Zealand officials downplayed the environmental impact of the event, saying a regular test flight would have burned more fuel. The high-octane excitement at Lake Taupo goes
on Jan. 18 to Jan. 20.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association is holding a news conference today to announce it is declaring a "staffing emergency" in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and
Southern California. The union claims that more senior controllers are retiring than the FAA had projected and those remaining are unable to safely manage peak traffic at those locations ...
Eclipse Aviation has called a news conference for next Monday to outline an "important financing development, and discuss an exciting new opportunity to grow the Eclipse 500 market" ...
Air Show Buzz has named Maj. Paul "Max" Moga as its 2007 Person Of The Year for his thrilling demonstrations of the F-22 Raptor. The Web site awards the honor annually to the person who is a
"game changer for the industry" ...
FAA employees are getting a raise based on their performance in the past year. Most will see a 3.08 percent increase plus extra for geographical and personal performance considerations. The
base raise could have been higher but the agency as a whole missed some of its performance targets.
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Auld lang syne, "best of 2007" lists and new year's
resolutions haven't quite worn out their welcome around AVweb
headquarters just yet. Last week, we asked readers to put on their
Johnny Carson-style turbans and peek into the sealed envelope of the
future. What, we asked, will be the biggest aviation
story of the coming year?
The overwhelming majority of responses indicate that we can expect
more of the same, as tensions between the controllers' union and the FAA
heat up over the next twelve months 67% of those who took the time to
respond picked the controller crisis as the story of the year.
Quite a few readers took time to send us predictions by e-mail.
For a sampling of our favorite predictions, be sure to check out
this past Monday's AVmail. And 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 ***
With everyone knee-deep in resolutions and financial
planning for 2008, it might be a good time to ask those of you who are
planning to buy an airplane this year what you're considering.
What kind of airplane might you purchase this 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.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Prior Aviation at KFBL in Buffalo, New York.
AVweb reader John LaCourt recounted his experience at Prior:
On our first flight to my wife's old home town we flew to Buffalo with family friends. With only a hour or so notice, Prior Aviation met us at the ramp, provided two rental cars one of which
was a Red Mustang that made our friends' day. We asked for hangar space due to impending freezing rain and were provided with a heated hangar at less than half the cost of similar space at our home
airport. When we arrived ahead of schedule for departure, they had the plane ready, fueled at reasonable rates, and gave us helpful hints as to taxi insturctions we would receive with a clearance.
Hats off to Prior; we will certainly use them on future trips!
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Make Plans Now to Attend a 2008 Savvy Aviator Seminar
Mike Busch has completed his very successful Savvy Owner Seminars for 2007. In 2008, he'll be conducting four more in Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Norfolk. Sign up for one of these classes
and learn how to save thousands of dollars on maintenance costs, year after year. Do it before your next annual inspection! For complete details (and to reserve your space),
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 ***
Welcome back to AVweb's "Picture of the Week"
feature! We've been riding high on reader submissions for quite
some time, but this week saw the tide of photos ebb a bit. We
realize that everyone is recuperating from the holidays, but we start to
feel a little unloved if we get fewer than a hundred photo submissions
in a week. (Yes, we're incorrigible. And you can submit your photos here.)
This "tail dragger sits majestically at the edge of one of Everitt Air
Field's two grass strips," courtesy of Englewood, Colorado's
Deborah Grigsby Smith. (Every
aircraft has just the right angle for snapping that perfect photo, eh?)
Darian Williams of Hazard, Kentucky
treated us to a couple of photos from Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene.
This one reminded us of the halcyon days of summer (and the fact that we
never get to spend any time ogling seaplanes at Oshkosh).
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.
While we run a weekly photo contest ourselves, there's no such thing as too many beautiful airplane pictures, and AOPA is also giving you the opportunity to showcase your finest work.
You'll only win cash in the AOPA contest (rather than the coveted AVweb ball cap), but you can't have everything. Last year's winner was Marcia Gitelman, who snapped this from the lead
aircraft in a flyover at Ormond Beach, Fla.
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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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Managing Editor Meredith Saini
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
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