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Virgin Galactic unveiled the final designs of SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo at a press conference in New York on Wednesday. The
construction of White Knight Two, the gangly mothership that carries the spaceship aloft before it ignites its rocket engine, is now very close to completion at Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif.,
the company said, and flight testing should begin this summer. The ship is not just a larger version of the original aircraft, but is substantially different, with four Pratt & Whitney PW308A jet
engines and dual fuselages. No promises were made, but since Virgin Galactic is calling 2008 "The Year of the Spaceship," we wouldn't be surprised to see WhiteKnightTwo fly into Oshkosh for a public
intro at EAA AirVenture in July. The airplane is the world's largest all-carbon-composite aircraft, the company said. The spaceship itself features the original version's unique "shuttlecock" wing
configuration, but is substantially larger, with room for eight.
Pictures and animations of the ships are available online. Branson added that he plans to experiment with bio-fuels to power the White Knight's engines.
Aircraft Spruce Now Carries the Challenger FAA-PMA Lifetime Oil Filter System
The Challenger Lifetime Oil Filter System for piston-engine aircraft is the most technologically advanced oil filtration system in the last fifty years. Challenger's revolutionary technology
oil filter assembly is machined from 6061-T6 aircraft billet aluminum. Large inlet and outlet passages provide a maximum oil flow rate of 22 gallons per minute (22 GPM). Challenger's cleanable oil
filter with up to 100 hours between oil changes helps reduce waste. One-time Form 337 required for installation. STC- and PMA-approved. Call Aircraft Spruce at 1 (877) 4-SPRUCE or
Adam Aircraft faces "liquidation" if it doesn't raise $25 million by the end of January. In a letter to shareholders, CEO John Wolf said that without the immediate cash injection, Adam will have to
take action to meet the terms of agreements with "senior lenders," according to the Wichita Eagle. The lenders were not
identified. Adam spokeswoman Shelly Simi told the Eagle the money crunch has to do with financial obligations coming due. "It's like every other loan or any other type of funding," said Simi. "There's
always stipulations or requirements and that's what we're working through as every other company would."
Wolf said in the letter that securing the $25 million (the full total was $30.5 million but $5.5 million has already been raised) will give the company time for its financial partner Citibank to
find the $100 million needed for long-term stability. He said that if the first $30 million isn't raised there's little hope investors will recover any of their money. But he's also hopeful that if
the money is found, Adam will rebound on the certification and sales of its A500 twin and the future sales of its A700 light jet.
Alpha Aviation, a Hamilton, N.Z.-based planemaker laid off most of its 70 staff and went into liquidation this week after a three-month search to find a buyer failed to turn up any prospects. In
2004, the company bought the rights to the French-made Robin two-place low-wing aircraft. The plan was to sell updated versions of sporty aircraft to the flight training market under the name the
Alpha 2000. The aircraft was certified in the U.S. in 2007 and, a short time later, hired former Mooney CEO Gretchen Hahn as general manager.
It's not known if Hahn was still associated with the company when it closed. Alpha was purchased by Australia-based Inventis in 2006. The company expected big things from the U.S. market and was
expecting to build 100 aircraft a year. It built a total of about 20 aircraft, most of which went to New Zealand and Australian flight schools.
Zulu Time ... From Lightspeed
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Investigators from the NTSB are trying to figure out why a Cessna 172 and a Cessna 150 collided in midair about a mile south of the Corona Municipal Airport in California on Sunday, killing the pilot
and passenger of each aircraft plus one person on the ground. According to the The Associated
Press, the Riverside County Coroner's Office identified the dead as Scott Gayle Lawrence, 55, of Cerritos; Paul Luther Carlson, 73, also of Cerritos; Brandon William Johnson, 24, of Costa Mesa;
Anthony Joel Guzman, 20, of Hesperia; and Earl Smiddy, 58, of Moreno Valley. Smiddy was reportedly crushed inside a car dealership when one of the aircraft pierced the building's roof.
According to FAA records, Carlson held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, with instrument airplane and helicopter privileges. His third-class
medical certificate was issued in January 2007. Johnson held a student pilot certificate and an unrestricted first-class medical issued in November 2007. FAA records show an Anthony Joel Guzman of La
Verne, CA, holding a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land with instrument airplane privileges, with a first-class medical issued in March 2006. AVweb was unable to locate
any FAA pilot records for Lawrence. No information was available on who was flying which plane.
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Seabird Aviation Australia is looking into the
feasibility of producing a three seat variant of its Seeker SB7L-360 to take advantage of the aircraft's helicopter-like forward sitting bubble cabin and target the sight-seeing industry. The
Sight-Seer would take advantage of the aircraft's pusher configuration, with its cabin located ahead of the high wing and aft-facing engine to maximize visibility for passengers by placing them fore
of the pilot. That would provide a nearly unobstructed view for the two passengers and locate the pilot and instrument panel in a center position, behind them. A proof of concept aircraft could fly
by mid-2008, providing a platform far more operationally efficient than the helicopters it might replace. The $265,000 Seeker SB7L-360, on which the Sight-Seer will be based carries two, is powered by
a Lycoming 0-360, cruises at about 112 knots and can fly at 65 knots for more than 7 hours.
AOPA will fight any attempt to impose peak-hour pricing (congestion pricing) under AOPA President Phil Boyer's charge that "all
federally funded airports, by law, must be open to all classes of users without unjust discrimination." Boyer added that general aviation is not the problem causing airline delays and shouldn't pay a
penalty for them. AOPA further charges that the FAA's airport rates and charges guidelines ultimately are ineffective and unfair. Additional runway capacity and modernized air traffic control are the
solutions to crowded runways, according to Boyer, who is pushing for an FAA funding bill without user fees. In his comments, Boyer also announced frustration with the Bush administration, saying it
ignored recommendations from a committee it had chartered that found congestion pricing "may not be effective in moving flights out of peak times," AOPA said in a release. Boyer added, "Why did they
waste taxpayer money chartering an advisory committee if they weren't going to listen to the recommendations?"
If Aircraft Insurance Brokers Say They Cover the Whole Market ...
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You haven't heard much about ultralights since the advent of the light sport category, but the Part 103 category still exists. But with advances in technology and materials, the latest ultralights are
nothing like their irrigation-pipe-and-Dacron ancestors. The Czech-built ZJ-Viera is a carbon-fiber and Ceconite low-wing aircraft that weighs only 160 pounds (100 pounds less than the maximum weight
for an ultralight) but will carry 240 pounds at the Part 103 maximum speed of 55 knots and a stall speed of 24 knots.
The aircraft is powered by a 27-hp, single cylinder two-stroke engine that sips the mixed fuel at about a gallon an hour. Although it's an ultralight, it has conventional flight controls, including
rudder pedals. Full-length ailerons ensure plenty of roll control even at low speeds. The aircraft is available with a single-wheel or tricycle configuration.
Liberty Aerospace is gathering opinions from prospective customers about a version of the XL2 powered by an 115-hp turbocharged Rotax 914 engine. Marketing Director Randy Burnley said there is demand
in Europe for the quiet, mogas-powered aircraft and it was decided to try the configuration out. He stressed that no decisions have been made on whether to go ahead with the aircraft, which would be
fully certified in the standard category, an expensive and time-consuming process. "We just want to see what people think of the idea," he told AVweb at the US Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring,
Fla. He said the turbo Rotax offers some important advantages over the conventionally powered version.
The turbo will take the XL2 to the flight levels where the disadvantage of the lower-powered engine (10 hp less than the Continental-powered version) is erased. The Rotax uses less fuel and is much
quieter than the conventional mill. Liberty will make a decision on whether to proceed with certification this year.
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The manager of a small airline that had a fatal crash on Vancouver Island two years ago is suing Transport Canada and three of its senior employees for defamation. Nikolas Todd Chapman claims the
officials unjustly lifted his authority to act as the operations manager for International Express Aircharter the day after one of its aircraft, a Cessna Grand Caravan, crash landed in a logging
clearing, killing the pilot and two of seven passengers. At the time, Transport Canada said Chapman "failed to fulfil his responsibility as operations manager to control the operations and
operational standards of all aircraft operated by IAE." Canada's Transportation Safety Board later determined the crash was caused by an engine failure and Chapman claims in the suit that there's no
way he could have predicted or prevented it.
Chapman appealed Transport Canada's decision to revoke his operating authority to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, which sided with Chapman. Despite the ruling, Transport Canada has
not reconsidered its decision and Chapman says that's cost him money and damages. Transport Canada has not yet filed a statement of defense.
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.
Diamond DA40 A Fleet Favorite
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State University have all selected the G1000-equipped Diamond DA40. For value, efficiency, and safety, the Diamond Aircraft DA40 is the fleet favorite.
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"Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but ski-flying is so delightful. So long as you fly in Minnesota, let it snow, let it snow ..." Who're we kiddin'? Winter sucks. So hasten spring's
arrival by smoking this quiz.
No matter who you are or what you fly, one thing is true:
There's always something you can upgrade or add to your aircraft.
Last week, we asked AVweb readers what their biggest purchase for
the airplane might be in 2008.
Not surprisingly, the biggest segment of respondents said nothing
major. And while that accounted for 47% of those who answered,
the second most popular answer was a bit of a surprise, with 23%
of you saying, I'm through with general aviation; this year, I'm
selling out! (For those who were planning to invest in
new equipment, an updated panel was the leading choice.)
For the complete breakdown of reader answers,
click here. (You may be asked to register and answer, if you haven't already
participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Having just covered the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in
Sebring, Florida, we can't help but notice that interest in these little
airplanes is still on the rise. When do you plan to buy your first
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.
Flight Resource & Lightspeed Team Up for a Very Special Offer Flight Resource will include a Lightspeed Thirty 3G ANR headset with the purchase of an MT Composite Constant Speed Propeller. These German-engineered and -manufactured MT propellers
are known for high-performance airfoils, unlimited life, light weight, and vibration-free operation. STCs for installation on the most popular U.S. and Canadian aircraft and ready for immediate
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AVweb reader Alec Thigpen brought Dixie to our attention:
I stopped in twice last month on a trip to the Keys and got a very low price for full service ... . On the way back, I stopped in again for a topoff, and even though it was after the time
cutoff for the Saturday 25¢ discount, they gave it to me anyway, without me asking ... and the manager couldn't have been more hospitable. It is a small FBO but very nice, and they
have snacks, sandwiches, and ice cream.
AVweb is actively seeking
out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
The AVweb Bookstore, The Most Complete Aviation Bookstore Anywhere
Over 400 titles representing 52 publishers are in stock and ready for immediate delivery as books, videos, or CDs. 100+ titles available instantly as fully searchable e-Book downloads.
Whether you are a pilot, an A&P technician, or a kit airplane builder, if it's worth reading, it's available from the AVweb Bookstore.
Click here to visit
On November 2, 2007, an F-15C with the 110th Fighter Squadron (of the 131st Fighter Wing) broke up while conducting an air-to-air training mission. This video, produced by Glenn Pew for AVweb, covers the military investigative board's findings.
Whether Your IFR Ticket Is Recent or Signed by Lindberg ...
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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 ***
Our fingers and toes are feeling the winter chill, but a
torrent of new photos from readers around the globe warmed our heart
this week. Before we dive in, special thanks to everyone who took
time to type out detailed descriptions of their photos. We only
have time to run a few of them here each week, and we realize that it
must seem like you're typing into a vacuum sometimes when you're
submitting those forms. Believe us, we read all your comments, and
if we came anywhere close to having the time, we'd try to respond to
them. That said, we do appreciate all you have to say. (And
we learned a PhotoShop trick or two!)
Rob Neil of Amberley, New Zealand
gets things off this ground with this awesome helicopter pic. As
the editor of
Pacific Wings magazine, Rob is no stranger to photos of
aircraft and if he's anything like
he'll appreciate someone sending him hat in the mail. ('Cause he
probably doesn't have time to run to the mall, folks!)
Rob assures us, "No alterations [were] made other than exposure."
Greg Wilson of Lithia, Florida set
us up with enough desktop wallpapers to get us through the weekend (we
tend to change 'em a lot!), but it was this shot that demanded to be run
in "POTW." There's a lot to like here, but our favorite part was
the title, which would work just as well if it had been spelled
Just to punctuate the point that we pay attention to your suggested
captions and photo comments, this photo Charlie
Robinton of Manchester, New Hampshire was in the running from
the time we opened up our submission box today but the "future pilots"
bit cinched it.
When They Say "8 Hours Bottle to Throttle," They Mean It!
Honestly, we didn't plan this week's column as a "beat you over
the head with it" object lesson on how clever some readers can be
but again, it was the comments from Batavia, Ohio's
Timothy O'Connor that
compelled us to place these R.C. flyers on the Top Five list
Mr. O'Connor "got escorted down by a police chopper at a pilots'
meeting last week." There's no NTSB report yet, but he's
already "gotten [his] batteries taken away," according to some
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.
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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
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.
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