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Some Pilots Minding the Gap Between Age-60 and
When Congress last year hurriedly passed the Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act, which raised the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots to 65, nobody read the small print, say some
age-60-plus pilots who have lost their jobs. About 3,000 pilots who were required to retire between Nov. 23, 2006, and Dec. 13, 2007, were specifically barred from being rehired at their same
seniority levels, the Kansas City Star reported on Monday. The law also bars pilots from challenging the law in court. "I
just dont see how Congress can do that," said Lew Tetlow, president of the Senior Pilots Coalition. He plans to challenge the
law in federal court nonetheless. "The new law is poorly written and expressly denies carriers the right to treat older pilots fairly," says the group's lawyer, Jonathan Turley. "Congress clearly
enacted this law with little understanding of its implications," he said. He added that a legislative remedy would be preferable to a court fight.
The law says the retired pilots can be rehired by the airlines, but must be treated as a new hire, at the bottom of the pay and seniority scale.
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Almost twice as many light sport aircraft were sold in 2007 as in 2006, according to numbers compiled by Dan Johnson at bydanjohnson.com. By
year's end, 565 new fixed-wing LSAs had been registered, bringing the total fleet to 1,118 airplanes. Johnson said he expects the numbers to continue to grow. "I've forecast 1,000 units in 2008 and
doubling that again in another year or two," said Johnson. "If I'm right, LSA may someday meet or exceed all other single engine pistons in the USA." FlightDesign is holding on to the top spot, with
226 aircraft registered -- that's 20 percent of the fleet. The Legend Cub comes in second with 120 copies, and another 20 manufacturers that have each sold more than 10 aircraft. The LSA fleet also
includes another 277 aircraft in the weight shift, powered parachute, and glider categories.
When the FAA issued its complex Light Sport Aircraft rule about three years ago, owners of two-seat ultralights were issued a deadline of Jan. 31, 2008, to convert their aircraft to the
experimental-LSA category. More than 6,000 owners requested transition kits from EAA. With the deadline looming, applications have backlogged, as owners await required inspections by designated
airworthiness representatives, who are in short supply. EAA asked the FAA for more time, and last week, FAA granted an exemption. Owners still must get their registration application to the FAA on or
before Jan. 31. Then they can apply for an exemption to be allowed to complete the process.
Owners can go to the EAA Web site for more information. The FAA says the exemption will terminate on Jan. 31,
2010, unless sooner superseded or rescinded. (PDF)
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The FAA has adopted a final rule that imposes standardized training requirements and operational procedures aimed at curbing an increase in the number of accidents by Mitsubishi MU-2B aircraft. The
aircraft, which use spoilers for roll control rather than ailerons, were involved in a spate of accidents in 2004 and 2005, prompting calls by some to ground the fleet. Defenders of the ubiquitous
freight hauler argued there was nothing inherently wrong with the airplane, but agreed pilots needed to understand its quirks. The FAAs response is a Special Federal Air Regulation that creates
a common training regimen for pilots new to the high-wing twin turboprop. Theres also a new standardized cockpit checklist and the requirement that all aircraft have the revised Airplane Flight
Manual. Finally, the autopilot has to be working on all flights except in certain (rare) special conditions. The FAA studies enormous amounts of data looking for trends, FAA Associate
Administrator for Aviation Safety Nick Sabatini said in a news release. When we saw the rising accident rate for the MU-2B, we decided to take appropriate actions to bring the plane up to an
acceptable level of safety.
New technology now being studied in Europe can track aircraft by detecting tiny changes in the Earth's magnetic field, according to a recent report in ICTWeb. Structures that cause "shadows" for today's radar systems -- a
problem for ground surveillance at large, sprawling airports -- do not impair the magnetic field detectors. Recent tests of the system in
Greece and Germany showed that it could detect 100 percent of the passing aircraft, and pinpointed their location to within 7.5 meters [25 feet], a level of accuracy comparable to most existing air
traffic management systems, says researcher Haibin Gao. The system uses an array of small, cheap sensor units, which could be as small as a coin in the future. They can be installed at the entry and
exit points of each runway, and would be affordable even for small airports.
The researchers now are looking for investors to certify the technology and bring it to the market.
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Aviation is a growing industry, and that means manufacturers, flight schools, airlines and maintenance shops all need trained workers. To fill that need, a coalition of business and education leaders
in central Florida is working on a plan to build a new aviation-themed campus at Orlando International Airport, the Orlando Sentinel reported on Tuesday. The campus would involve a half-dozen colleges,
including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the Florida Institute of Technology, the universities of Central Florida and South Florida, Valencia Community College, and the National Aviation
Academy, a Tampa-based trade school for aircraft mechanics. The airport campus would offer courses in a wide range of aviation topics, from avionics and aerospace engineering to human resources and
transportation logistics, according to the Sentinel. Companies such as AirTran, JetBlue Airways, Continental Airlines, Cessna Aircraft and FlightSafety International need workers in the Orlando area.
The plan is still in a preliminary stage, and millions of dollars would have to be raised. But supporters say it would be a good investment in the region's economic future
Just a day after five teenagers were killed while speeding down a runway in a BMW at a private Florida airport, a woman was arrested for allegedly driving drunk on a runway at Grand Junction Regional
Airport, in Colorado. The 36-year-old woman was found by police just after 3 a.m., when her car got stuck. "The vehicle was high-centered on electrical conduits and the wheels spun as she applied the
accelerator," the officer wrote in an arrest affidavit, according to the Vail Daily. Police at the scene
contacted air traffic controllers, who said there were no inbound aircraft. The woman reportedly failed field sobriety tests and was charged with driving under the influence, driving with a suspended
license, second-degree trespassing and careless driving, according to the Vail Daily. Meanwhile, investigators in Florida said the 18-year-old driver of the BMW had gone online hours before the crash, seeking advice about how to handle the car at high speeds.
One member of the online forum responded that "an 18 year old behind the wheel of an M5 is what accidents are made of IMO." The $80,000 BMW M-5 sedan has a top speed of 155 mph, according to the BMW Web site.
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Air Canada has retired one of the most famous Boeing 767s in pilot lore. Fleet no. 604 was flown to a storage area in the Mojave Desert, Thursday, 25 years after surviving, along with its crew of
eight and 61 passengers, one of the most amazing dead-stick landings ever attempted. After the computerized fuel gauges on the then state-of-the-art aircraft failed because of a faulty solder joint,
the ground crew decided to dip the tanks to ensure there was enough fuel for the 2,000-mile trip from Montreal to Edmonton. What they didn't know is that the dip gauges were calibrated in centimeters
rather than inches and since a centimeter is less than half an inch, nowhere enough fuel was put on board. Sure enough, about half way through the trip, near the border of Ontario and Manitoba, both
engines quit. Fortunately, Capt. Robert Pearson was a trained glider pilot and what happened next earned a footnote in airline history.
Pearson and First Officer Maurice Quintal calculated the glide potential of the airliner and determined they wouldn't make it to Winnipeg, the nearest airport of any size. Quintal, a former
military pilot had served at an abandoned air force base in the small town of Gimli, Manitoba and the numbers, along with a long runway, looked good to both men. Pearson was high and hot on final but
side slipped the 767 to a rough but safe landing that collapsed the nose gear but did little damage. The landing intruded on a day at the races for some go cart enthusiasts who were using the
abandoned concrete but no one was hurt. The plane was flown away after two days of repairs and remained in uneventful service until Pearson, Quintal and several of the flight attendants on board that
day accompanied it on its final flight to California.
An Air Canada 767 en route to London diverted to Shannon Airport in Ireland on Monday morning and the first officer was taken off the aircraft by medical personnel. Local news reports said the pilot
was taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation and may have suffered a nervous breakdown, but officials would not confirm those reports. "This is an issue around one of our employee's health,"
airline spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told reporters.
"We're quite limited in what we can say. There are privacy concerns." The 146 passengers on board were never in danger, he said. "We have standard operating procedures in place to deal with these
situations and at no time was the safety of anybody compromised." The passengers were transferred to another airplane with a fresh crew and arrived in London eight hours late.
Sources told the Irish Independent newspaper that the
co-pilot began "acting in a peculiar manner and was talking loudly to himself," during the last hour of the trans-Atlantic crossing.
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A German travel agency says it will offer the country's first-ever nude tourist flight in July, flying up to 55 passengers to a Baltic beach resort in a chartered aircraft. "It's an unusual gap in the
market," travel director Enrico Hess told Reuters.
Passengers cannot undress until they are on board, he said. "But then they will be able to enjoy the hour-long flight in the way God intended." Commenters at the Web site for Britain's Telegraph were uncomfortable with the concept. "Rubbing more than shoulders unclothed [in
narrow airline seating] is statistically unlikely to be an agreeable experience," says one. "Wouldn't any exit down escape-chutes guarantee friction burns? These questions demand not so much answers
as a cover-up." The world's first nudist flight was offered by a U.S. company in 2003.
Castaways Travel organized the "Naked Air" flight from Texas to Cancun, on a Boeing 737. They noted that no hot drinks were served on board, all 90 passengers were required to dress for takeoff and
landing, beach towels were distributed to cover the seats, and the crew remained in uniform throughout the flight.
The Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, the nation's primary source of weather information for flying, has named Robert Maxson, a veteran research pilot, as its new director ...
"Space weather" scientists in the U.K., who work to protect communication and navigation systems from solar and space threats, are devastated by budget cuts ...
VirginGalactic will have a "significant exhibit" at AirVenture in Oskhosh this summer, says
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With the letters LSA on everyone's lips following the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, we thought last week would be as good a time as any to ask when AVweb readers might make their first
light sport aircraft purchase.
At press time, your responses to our question are pretty evenly split, with a third of readers telling they don't ever plan to buy one, a third saying We'll see how it goes, and
another third either owning an LSA now or planning to buy one in the next five years.
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 ***
The Governor of Alaska is proposing that aircraft owners be offered low-interest loans to equip
their aircraft with avionics that will be required under the FAA's NextGen airspace management system. Should similar subsidies be offered to owners in Hawaii and the Lower 48, or should the
government be even more involved?
Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is preparing a report on interior shops. If you recently had an interior redone, the editors would like to hear from you, whether the experience was
good or bad.
The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.
Make Plans Now to Attend a 2008 Savvy Aviator Seminar
Mike Busch will be conducting three of his Savvy Aviator Seminars in 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, click here.
As we go to press, the world is watching the latest developments after a British Airways Boeing 777 landed short of the south runway at Heathrow. It
appears to have skimmed the perimeter fence and landed on the grass before the threshold of Runway 27L, before skidding to a halt on the markers. There is no news yet on why it happened. Thanks to the
skill of the flight crew -- Captain Peter Burkill and Senior First Officer John Coward, who actually brought the plane in to land -- and cabin crew, all 136 passengers and 16 crew survived the
incident. It does drive home the need to keep the flight-training industry alive and well, with GA at the sharp-end preparing pilots for the future.
Keeping and developing flying skills is a key part of that aim. One of the biggest sore spots for European GA pilots is the potential loss of various national ratings and licenses, which are
historically designed for safety and ease of flying. In the UK, the particular rating that is under threat is the IMC (instrument) rating, which is scheduled to cease to exist, without anything to
On the plus side, it seems that after intense lobbying from GA groups, there is a probability that Eurocrats will see sense and set up a working group to look at instrument flying in Europe. The UK's
CAA is backing a license offering instrument privileges that does not involve the study and cost of a full Instrument rating, which is designed for professional pilots.
It is possible that the IMC rating will survive beyond 2008. It is still unclear, however, whether UK schools will be able to continue to offer training for the IMC rating. A Notice of Proposed
Amendment (NPA) will be issued in the next three months, covering the IMC rating, as well as losing the requirement for flying instructors to hold a Commercial Pilot License. The NPA will also include
the new European Light Aircraft Pilot License.
If you want to support the UK campaign and petition to retain the existing IMC, you can do so here.
One Thousand Members for Forum Air et Aviation
The U.K. is not the only European country to garner support from the GA community. The French forum Air Aviation covering the whole of Europe
celebrated a milestone this month when it gained its 1000th forumite. The independent site is open to anyone with a "passion for aviation" and members discuss a wide range of topics. Not bad for only
three months in existence. It is currently asking its French members to contact it to respond to the Fédération Française Aéronautique (FFA, the French Aviation Federation), which
is polling French private pilots on GA in France. Send email to Air Aviation and the site will forward comments to the FFA.
U.S. Base for Germany's Remos
Manufacturers are in the news as Remos Aircraft is due to open a new plant in Arkansas to cater for demand for its Remos G-3 light sport aircraft. The
carbon-fiber ultralight has a range of 550 nm and can cruise at 113 knots Last autumn the German manufacturer was under the spotlight when it promised to take US$5000 off the Remos for any Cessna
SkyCatcher 162 customers who had put a deposit down on Cessna's new offering.
And there's more good news from the green movement. The Association for the Promotion of Electrical Engine Aircraft (APAME) flew the
Electra F-WMDJ -- a lithium-battery-powered light aircraft -- in France in December. The open-cockpit tail dragger has a 25-hp engine and flew for 48 minutes in the circuit at Aspres sur Buech
airfield piloted by Christian Vandamme. The flight beats APAME's previous record of a 22-minute electric flight.
Eclipse in Russia
However, as previously reported on AVweb, the biggest manufacturing news here recently is that Eclipse Aviation is
looking at building some of its very light jets in Ulyanovsk, in Russia. Luxembourg-based European Technology and Investment Research Center (ETIRC) is headed by former computer magnate Roel Pieper,
who will take the helm after investing $100 million into the company.
Pieper has become non-executive chairman of Eclipse and has the rights to sell the VLJ in 60 countries, including Western Europe and Britain. Vern Raburn, who remains president and CEO of Eclipse,
said the deal expands Eclipse's horizons more quickly.
Century of Helos
In Paris, the world famous Musee de l'Air et l'Espace at Le Bourget Airport has opened a new permanent display: "100 Years of Helicopters." The
exhibition contains replicas of the world's first helicopter, built by Paul Cornu, which flew in 1907. In addition to the Cornu machines, there are original prototypes, such as the eight-blade
co-axial machine built by Raul Peschara in 1922. The museum houses one of the best collections of vintage aircraft in Europe if not the world and is well worth a visit should you find yourself in
Sustainable Future for General and Business Aviation
Two ex-Chairmen of key European organizations that protect GA -- Mark Wilson of the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) and Brian Humphries of the European Business Aviation
Association (EBAA) -- have contributed to a key document presented at the EC on January 11 looking at how the future of business and general aviation might look in Europe.
I've extracted a few key highlights for readers here. The paper points out the
diverse nature of general aviation and that a significant part of the industry is formed of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or not-for-profit organizations. Very often, these individuals or
small firms have limited resources to keep up with changes in regulatory or technical requirements. On the industrial side, European general- and business-aviation manufacturing industry is breaking
out to the world markets in an unprecedented way.
There are up to 50,000 motor-powered general- and business-aviation aircraft in Europe (including about 2,800 turbine-powered) as compared to about 5,000 aircraft in the European commercial-airline
fleet. In addition, 180,000 to 200,000 microlight and non-motor-powered aircraft are used for sport and recreation. Since 2003 the number of aircraft movements in this segment registered by
Eurocontrol has been growing almost twice as quickly as the rest of the traffic (22 percent more flights in 2006 than in 2003, compared to a 14-percent increase for the rest of the traffic).
Eurocontrol does not register the vast majority of general and business aviation flights, as they are moving in non-controlled airspace. Most of the recreational and sport-aviation operations will not
be captured by these statistics.
Recreational and sport aviation is one of the big sources of qualified aviation staff for airlines and supporting services. Many of the trainee pilots and engineers, after building the number of their
hours in the air or in the hangar, subsequently move to work in the airline industry.
Aeroclubs and air-sports organizations promote pilots' qualities, technical knowledge, and aeronautical skills -- especially amongst the young citizens of the European Union, raising their interest in
the highly demanding and motivating air sports and future careers in commercial aviation or aeronautical research and development.
Complete data describing general and business aviation in Europe is not available and it seems that such data is not being gathered in a systematic and coherent way. As regards the specific issue of
safety, there are no European-wide comprehensive statistics on safety of aircraft with maximum take-off mass (MTOM) below 2,250 kg (5000 pounds) and the partial data available gives only some
indication as to the main causes of fatal accidents.
In order to properly regulate any activity, policy makers need to have a clear picture of the situation. This calls for the development at the European level of the basic set of objective and coherent
data as well as for close cooperation with all the interested stakeholders.
The Commission has asked the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) to conduct a study on general and business aviation that would identify the sources of available data and suggest the most
efficient way for its future gathering.
Visit their respective Web sites for more details on the work of the BBGA and the EBAA.
All Hail the Air Taxi Association
And finally: Just to show Europe is serious about its air taxi prospects despite some skepticism, a new industry group came into being this week. The Air Taxi Association (ATXA) Europe has elected Stefan Vilner of JetBird as its first chairman, with Javier Díez Cardona of Wondair as vice chairman, as well as several
committee officers. The Founding members include AccelJet, AirCab, Air-Cannes, BikkAir, Blink, byJets, Etirc Aviation, GlobeAir, Gonow, JetBird, Jet Ready, London Executive Aviation, Taxijet and
For more aviation news and information from Europe, read the rest of Liz Moscrop's columns.
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.
Diamond DA40 A Fleet Favorite
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In a week filled with stellar FBO recommendations, our "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Epic Aviation at KEVB in New Smyrna Beach,
According to AVweb reader Robert Edelson, Epic really stepped up to the plate on a recent visit, despite having their hands full with other pilots:
The self-service pump was inop, but they refueled me by truck at the same price. Furthermore, they changed by CHT probe and cleaned a partially-blocked injector plus moved and returned our plane to
its tie-down by tug, all for a time charge of one and half hours. They operate a busy flight-training operation, maintaining 20 aircraft, yet they graciously took the time to help me ... all for a
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 ***
A slight dip in the number submissions this week has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. For one thing, we can run a few more of last week's incredible photos in our home page slideshow. (Seriously, we almost had enough from last week to have run a second "POTW" column!)
While the quantity may be lower this week, the quality certainly isn't! We can't recall when we've had a tougher time deciding which of our finalists should receive heaping accolades (and a free
AVweb baseball cap) but somehow we managed to agree on this incredible shot from J.T. Vink of Terre Haute, Indiana.
J.T.'s shot was taken at KLXV in Leadville, Colorado, ELV 9927 (according to J.T.), which means she was about as close to returning as she could get with her landing gear on the ground.
Here's a question for AVweb readers out there: Why do so many Pitts photos end up as desktop wallpaper around "POTW" headquarters? It's not a special affinity for the airplane
just that we seem to end up with a lot of great Pitts pictures. (Are they packaging digital cameras with these things?)
Oops we almost forgot to mention that this is Deborah Grigsby Smith of Englewood, Colorado contributing to our desktop wallpaper file!
(If you like watching airplanes take off from Colorado's Everitt Field, keep reading. We've got another below!)
Mark Reed of Seattle, Washington made a "precautionary landing at Valparaiso, Indiana (VPZ)" when thunderstorms and hail threatened his just-completed
Glasair Sportsman 2+2. Thankfully, some kind souls lent him the use of a hangar while the storm passed over, so we can safely assume Mark's paint job is as gorgeous today and seen here.
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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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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