AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 3a

January 14, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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From the FAA back to top 

Local NOTAMs Go Electronic

Pilots will soon be able to receive all NOTAMs relevant to their intended flight on their computers. On Jan. 28, all local or L-designated NOTAMs will be reclassified and published on the national NOTAM system. What it theoretically means, according to AOPA, is that pilots will no longer have to call flight services to get the local NOTAMs, which can have important information like taxiway closures. The practice might be different at first, however, and a call to FSS might be in order for the first while just to make sure. "AOPA has been advocating for this change for a long time," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. "This helps simplify and consolidate information gathering for pilots while alleviating some of the call burden on flight service." It's important to note that only new local NOTAMs will be on the system at first. Existing local NOTAMs will be added as time permits and it could take months before every relevant NOTAM is available electronically. The change is part of a gradual overhaul of the NOTAM system and the new NOTAMs will include graphics that tell the viewer at a glance what service or facility is affected (taxiway, lighting, airspace, runway, etc.) By 2010, military airspace NOTAMs will also be included and the full system will be digitized and feature graphics.

Runway Marking For GA Airports, Too

On Dec. 28 the FAA released a proposed change to Advisory Circular150/5340-1J, Standard Airport Markings. The updated AC would require all 567 airports certificated under Part 139, not just the 75 large air carrier airports that are already affected, to install surface-painted holding position signs and enhanced taxiway centerlines. The AC would also apply to all airports receiving federal funds under the Airport Grant Assistance and the Passenger Facility Charge programs. Public comments on the proposal are due by Feb. 26, and airports would have one year from the date of the final rule to comply. Enhanced taxiway centerline markings are yellow and contain glass beads. Surface-painted holding position signs have a red background with white lettering, and are outlined in black on light-colored pavements. The proposal is part of the FAA's recent push to reduce runway incursions and improve safety at airports. The FAA this week also released a draft of AC 150/5210-20, Ground Vehicle Operations on Airports, which proposes regular recurrent driver training for anyone with access to the movement area and ramp apron areas at all certificated airports. In 2004 the FAA issued a final rule that revised 14 CFR Part 139 and established certification requirements for airports serving scheduled air carrier operations in aircraft designed for more than nine passenger seats but fewer than 31 passenger seats.

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Working Conditions back to top 

Western Michigan U. Boosts CFI Pay, Benefits

Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation is offering higher pay and benefits to its flight instructors, who have been leaping to regional airlines with increasing regularity. "A few years ago we kept a flight instructor for an average of 24 months," said WMU chief flight instructor Tom Grossman. "In the past six months, it’s become common for them to stay only four to six months before taking that first industry job." The college is now offering flight instructors up to $29 per hour, up from a maximum of $20 per hour, Grossman said, plus reduced rates on aircraft rental and jet orientation courses. Instructors are also eligible for university benefits including health insurance, tuition reimbursement, and paid holidays and vacation days. Flight instructor earnings vary widely throughout the country depending on the pilot’s experience level, type of aircraft flown, and location, though company-paid benefits such as health insurance are generally regarded as scarce.

NATCA: Controllers Inexperienced, Fatigued, Passengers At Risk

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association Thursday held a news conference and declared a staffing emergency, stating that controllers "do not have enough trained and experienced personnel on the ground to safely handle the volume of traffic" to work Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Southern California airspace. Faced with the statement that the situation is "dangerous and about to get worse," AVweb asked NATCA president Patrick Forrey if the immediate threat to public safety would prompt NATCA to reduce the volume of traffic at any of these facilities in order to safeguard passengers. Forrey responded, "I don't know, but I call upon the FAA to take the appropriate measures to do their damn job."

Click here to listen to excerpts of NATCA President Patrick Forrey speaking with reporters during NATCA's teleconference Thursday.

Resolution, according to NATCA, would (in part) begin with reopening FAA/NATCA contract negotiations to improve morale and create financial incentives to stem the tide of attrition and retirements. Forrey said well over 1300 aircraft-handling controllers were lost to attrition last year (his estimate was 1600, total, including at least 800 lost to retirement) and those were replaced with 40 new hires who trained and gained certification last year. With 1800 new-hire controller trainees in the system and only 40 certified last year, Forrey says 500 trainees have already washed out of the training program and it will take time for the rest to be able to fill the shoes of the 1600 experienced controllers already lost and 2200 more currently eligible to retire. Of those trainees who've made it through, "They're getting people as new hires working at Newark that are coming from McDonald's and, uh, actually no experience at all, and they're sticking them into one of the busiest towers in the world. These people have no clue what a 737 is compared to a DC-10." He added, "I can give you names."

Speaking of the 2200 veteran controllers now able to retire, Forrey said he believes that if they leave before summer, the system will fall into "chaos." That would be worse than the current situation described by Forrey in which "The ability to separate traffic safely has gone to an all-time low." Forrey cited poor labor relations, the lack of a contract and working under imposed work rules as contributing factors leading to extremely low morale and high attrition rates among both trainees and qualified controllers. Forrey's position is that attrition rates cannot be curbed at this point by trainees that need four to five years' experience to be sufficiently well-versed. As it sits, Forrey says he does not feel comfortable flying into the nation's busiest airports being guided by overworked, potentially inexperienced controllers working at understaffed facilities.

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Tomorrow's Jets back to top 

Adam A700 In Progress

Adam's A700 carbon composite twin-jet has completed a series of environmental tests that exposed the aircraft to extreme weather conditions -- the results will be used to improve the aircraft's design before it heads to hot and cold weather certification testing. Those tests, says the company, will be completed later this year. The extreme weather testing exposed the aircraft and its systems to freezing rain, fog, blowing snow and temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The aircraft successfully performed engine starts from the batteries at that temperature. The A700 received FAA type inspection authorization Nov. 30, allowing the company to begin flight testing. Last month, Adam announced it is expecting to add 1,225 new full-time jobs to its Ogden facilities over the next two years. Once the aircraft is certified, the company's Ogden facilities are expected to produce ten to 15 aircraft per month.

UPS Goes NextGen

The FAA last month granted operations approval for the software package SafeRoute, which works with the electronic flight bags being installed on UPS-operated 757, 767 and 747-400 aircraft. The company expects to have six aircraft flying with electronic flight bag/SafeRoute software by Jan. 21 and 55 by year-end. But the first operational flight is scheduled sooner -- for the week of Jan. 14. Flight operations using the system will be ramped up gradually from one per week as controllers and crews gain experience with the technology. The system uses ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance - broadcast) to provide pilots with the ability to help manage spacing and provide next-generation continuous descent arrivals (CDA). "The ability for us to configure the aircraft for landing consistently at the same place all but eliminates the missed approaches, overtakes and breakouts that make the system unstable," said Captain Karen Lee, director of UPS Flight Operations. It should also provide for more efficient operations, when it comes to noise, fuel burn and emissions.

Incorporated into a NextGen airspace scenario, the package would provide cockpit crew with a designated tube of airspace that would act as an express lane from flight altitudes to the runway. The result will be a reduction in an aircraft's noise footprint by 30 percent, reduced emissions (down by 34 percent) and reduced fuel burn of 40-70 gallons per flight. UPS worked for more than ten years to develop the system and now has FAA approval to use the technology set.

Rotax Gearbox MSB Issued

Rotax has issued a manadatory service bulletin (PDF) affecting specific 912 and 914-series engine gearboxes after a fault was found with the material used in making the gears. Under severe operating conditions, it's possible for gear teeth to break. The fix calls for replacement of the gears but the good news is that Rotax is paying the shot. Removal and replacement of the gearbox, the gear set and the installation of the new gears is all covered, as is the freight. [more] This is a significant test of Rotax's constantly expanding service and supply network as its engines flood the mainstream aviation network, particularly in the U.S., thanks to the burgeoning popularity of the Light Sport Aircraft category. The MSB comes two weeks before the Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla. where about 80 percent of the aircraft will be Rotax-powered and their owners and manufacturers ready to give feedback.

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Travel News for Canadian Passengers back to top 

Injuries: Air Canada Reminds You To Buckle Up

Eight passengers and two crew members aboard Air Canada Flight 190 were injured Thursday morning when the Airbus 319 suffered a sudden loss of altitude and rolled sharply left and right. One passenger told Canadianpress.com "all of a sudden there were three big drops," explaining that items (and people) that were not strapped down went flying. "It was over and done with in 10 or 15 seconds," after which some crew were left "trying to dab blood out of their eyes," and the flight out of Victoria, British Columbia, for Toronto, diverted to Calgary. By Thursday evening all the injured had been released from hospital. Canada's Transportation Safety Board did not immediately characterize the event as one due to turbulence, mechanical problems, or the actions of the flight crew. Early media reports said passengers were told by the flight crew that the aircraft experienced mechanical problems or that its flight computer had malfunctioned. Other reports indicated that the crew had explained after the event that the aircraft's "computer had been knocked out" and that they were now flying the aircraft manually. The aircraft's flight path took it from Victoria east over the Kootenay Mountains. After the incident, the crew flew to Calgary. A low pressure system and front was in the area.

Canada Addresses Disability Surcharge

By year-end, severely disabled passengers flying on Canadian airlines will no longer have to pay for extra seats needed to accommodate them. The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) ruled Thursday that Canadian carriers must offer a single fare under a "one-person, one-fare" policy that apparently can include a second person provided that second person is a medical attendant. The financial impact of the decision is estimated to hit Air Canada to the tune of about $7 million, annually, which the CTA has deemed as negligible ... or at least, not an undue hardship. There are some caveats. Specifically, individuals who are obese and require two seats for comfortable air travel, but are not disabled, are not covered by the new rule. Also, disabled people traveling with a companion for non-medical reasons will not be granted any free seats. For now, the CTA's ruling does not apply to charter carriers.

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Future Gear back to top 

Holographic Interface Funded

Tarek El Dokor's work gives new meaning to the concept of making something happen in the blink of an eye. The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott campus) professor got a $50,000 Honda Initiation Grant to further his work on holographic instrument panels and displays. Now, the press release doesn't specifically mention aircraft applications (though he does work at ERAU) but it does hint at the kind of potential the stuff he's working on might have in the cockpit. "You don’t need to touch any screens," El Dokor, the director of ERAU's Machine Vision Lab, said. "Content is projected away from the dashboard and toward the user, where the user can manipulate it in many ways." So far, El Dokor and his team have been able to change the way video games are played and it doesn't take too much of a leap to see the real-world applications. "For example, his lab has developed a way for people to control the movement of video game characters by moving their own body instead of a joystick or controller," an ERAU news release says. "A camera captures the person’s movements, sending messages through the computer system that tell on-screen objects or contents what to do." The Honda grants are handed out to those working on the beginnings of technology that might be in general use in five to 10 years.

What A Concept: Sky Commuter For Sale

Has the dream of generations been tucked away in a garage in Dawsonville, Ga., for 20 years? The last remaining Sky Commuter proof-of-concept flying car is for sale on eBay. The Sky Commuter is a two-place carbon-fiber vehicle with a single front and two rear fans that was hoped to provide VTOL performance. By late Sunday, with less than a day left in the listing, bidding had reached $49,600. The seller candidly notes that the only reason this particular vehicle survived is because no one has tried to fly it. Both other concept vehicles were lost in accidents. However, he also points out that the others did get about 10 feet off the ground in free flight before meeting their ends and suggests that modern technology might solve the control issues that computers in the late 1980s simply didn't have the horsepower to manage. This Sky Commuter isn't in "flying" condition but it's nonetheless a show-stopper, he insists, attracting crowds on the few occasions he's taken it in public. And while it might seem like an anachronistic novelty, the Sky Commuter was the result of a pretty serious attempt at making that aircraft-in-the-garage dream a reality. Boeing engineer Fred Barker was behind the project, which the seller says attracted about $6 million in development funding from 60 investors. Everything about the vehicle was "cutting edge" at the time, from the carbon-fiber construction to the computer-controlled ducted fans. However, the engineers never could figure out a way to make it stable in flight and the project was dropped in about 1990. The seller doesn't explain how the last surviving Sky Commuter ended up in his garage. While he does hold out hope the project could be resurrected, it seems likely the vehicle will end up in a museum or as some kind of promotional prop. Bids close at just before 11 a.m. EST Monday.

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Reader Feedback back to top 

AVmail: Jan. 14, 2008

Reader mail this week about Cessna building in China, Boeing's great year, flying the Hump 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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New on AVweb back to top 

CEO of the Cockpit #78: Pilots Tired? No Way!

Want to find out if pilot fatigue is real? Ask for a real study by an independent agency. If you can find such an agency.

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

AVweb's Monday Podcast: Determining a Visual Glidepath with Pilot's Audio Update

File Size 8.2 MB / Running Time 8:55

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Early on in your pilot training, you may have been taught the spot-on-the-windshield method of determining a visual glidepath. In this sample from Belvoir's Pilot's Audio Update, Dick Taylor reviews the method and illuminates the finer points.

For more on subscribing to Pilot's Audio Update, click here.

Click here to listen. (8.2 MB, 8:55)

Video of the Week: Revisiting the Glenn Curtiss America Recreation Project

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

We've checked in on the Glenn Curtiss Museum's "Project America" before, but angelica4709 keeps posting updates on YouTube, and while we're still waiting (anxiously) to see the new America get into the air, she's out and about on the water now:

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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."

Exclusive Video: Behind the Scenes of That Amazing Thunderbird Ejection/Crash Photo

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

When we first saw the photo of Capt. Chris Stricklin's ejection from a doomed U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 a few years ago, most of us here at AVweb thought it was a fake. But the more we looked at it, the more it seemed possible that someone had actually snapped Stricklin's moment of truth in what must be one of the greatest aviation photos ever shot. Well, it wasn't long before we learned that Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III had actually captured the drama at an air show at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

In this week's AVweb original video, Video Editor Glenn Pew looks at the circumstances surrounding the dramatic accident — combining still photos, in-cockpit and outside-of-cockpit video, and narration including the investigation's findings and changes in procedure for the T-birds.

Don't see a video screen?
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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Related Content:
Thunderbirds Crash: Truth in Images

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Aviation Technology (KSDF, Louisville, KY)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Aviation Technology at KSDF in Louisville, Kentucky.

AVweb reader Don Gay tells us how the Tec team came through for him just last week:

My twin Cessna 310 had a bad case of plug fouling and clogged fuel injectors on Friday, January 4 at 4pm. Paul Atwell and his tech stayed overtime for two hours to clean and gap the plugs and clean fuel injectors to get me on my way to my destination that night. Outstanding.

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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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Heard a few years ago whilst flying a 747 from LAX to LHR:

Salt Lake Center:
"Airline 123, you bound for Vegas?"

Airline 123:

Salt Lake Center:
"You a [DC-]10?"

Airline 123:

Salt Lake Center:
"Well, I guess your passengers need a 10 to take home their winnings?"

Airline 123:
"Nope! Our passengers can take home their winnings in a Cessna 152."

Alan Murgatroyd
via 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

Managing Editor
Meredith Saini

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.