AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 6b

February 7, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Announcing the Online MBA for Aviation Professionals
from Daniel Webster College

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Reeling in the Wake of Silver State Closing back to top 

Students Left Hanging By Silver State Closure

Shocked by the downfall of Silver State Helicopters, the Nevada-based flight school that declared bankruptcy earlier this week, former students and employees are telling AVweb they face major financial losses. Silver State Helicopters abruptly shut down operations at its 34 nationwide locations on Sunday afternoon, leaving more than 800 employees without jobs and more than 2,500 flight students saddled with millions in debt. Company president and founder Jerry Airola has yet to speak publicly on the event, but a statement released by the company alleges that “a rapid, unprecedented downturn in the U.S. credit markets” curtailed the availability of student loans for the company’s students and resulted in a “sharp and sudden downturn in new student enrolment.” Tony and Heather Sullivan told AVweb they were at a Super Bowl party when they got the news. Heather was employed as a receptionist and flight dispatcher at Silver State’s Houston facility, where her husband was a student. To date Tony has logged just 81 of the 200 hours he signed up to receive, and said he does not know how he is going to complete his training. Tony, who works full time as a human resources manager for a construction company, said he has an outstanding loan through American Education Services (AES) for approximately $70,000, the cost of the 18-month program designed to get students through their private, commercial, instrument and initial flight instructor certificates. Mike Reiber, spokesperson for AES, told AVweb that AES is one of several companies that originated and serviced loans made to Silver State students. “Effective this past Monday we are no longer dispersing money to Silver State Helicopters,” he said. “Any disbursements that were sent out are being returned.” Reiber said that AES is awaiting direction from Student Loan Xpress, the guarantor of the loans. Student Loan Xpress spokeswoman Jenn Stark said Silver State should pay unused tuition back. “As a result of Silver State Helicopter School's decision to file for bankruptcy protection, we are currently working with its students to ensure that their loans are managed properly until the bankruptcy court decides upon a course of action to assist them." she wrote in an email to AVweb. She said affected students can contact Student Loan Xpress for information, at 888-568-2429, between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. EST. Silver State Helicopters is a member of the Helicopter Association International (HAI). In an undated membership profile on HAI’s website, Silver State lists a fleet of 195 helicopters including 138 two-place Robinson R22s and 43 four-place R44s. HAI president Matthew Zuccaro told AVweb that the loss of such a large flight school will be felt throughout the industry. “It’s certainly of concern to us,” he said. Jerry Airola founded Silver State Helicopters in 1999 and quickly became known throughout the industry for using aggressive sales tactics to recruit students to the program.

ACR Personal Locator Beacons Available Now at Aircraft Spruce
The AeroFix and MicroFix both work fast. If GPS data is present in the beacon's first burst, SAR forces can be notified and start planning your rescue in as little as three minutes. The MicroFix is the smallest, lightest Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) available, and it's easily attachable to clothing and equipment for easy access. For more information, call Aircraft Spruce at 1 (877) 4-SPRUCE or visit online.
Sturgell and FAA Under Scrutiny back to top 

FAA Nominee Sturgell To Face Senate Hearing This Week

More than three months have gone by since President Bush nominated Bobby Sturgell to take over Marion Blakey's job as head of the FAA, but the Senate needs to confirm that choice, and so far they haven't taken action. This Thursday, Sturgell will at least get a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. His nomination has been controversial, with most of the established user groups (including NBAA, AOPA, and EAA) willing to work with him, but an assortment of noisy advocacy groups, as well as NATCA, vehemently opposed. Senators in the Northeast have been lobbied heavily by constituents who are unhappy with the FAA's ongoing redesign of busy airspace in the region and opposed to Sturgell.

President Bush was prevented from pushing through the nomination during the holiday recess because Senate leaders held brief daily sessions and no official recess was held. Election-year politics could cause further delays, as Senate leaders may be reluctant to confirm a five-year assignment from a lame-duck administration that will be changing in less than a year.

Here We Go Again - FAA Budget Back In Play

The federal Transportation Department this week released the latest version of its budget request, including user-fee-based funding for the FAA, and reaction has been swift. "What part of 'NO!' doesn’t the White House understand?" asked AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Once again, the Bush administration wants huge new taxes and user fees imposed on general aviation, and it wants to slash and burn the Airport Improvement Program." Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, agreed. "Despite Congress saying 'no' to the Administration's proposal to scrap the current funding mechanism for a less efficient one that imposes user fees, they have once again launched an effort to complete a FAA reauthorization bill by proposing the exact same failed plan," he said. DOT Secretary Mary Peters insisted the system needs to change. "Traditional approaches are not capable of producing the results we need to keep America's economy growing," she said.

Meanwhile, Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell gave a "terse defense" of the administration's decision to recycle a reauthorization proposal that failed last year in Congress, wrote The Wall Street Journal. "There are no changes," Sturgell said.

Aircraft Loans to Fit Your Needs
AirFleet Capital offers a competitive and experienced approach to each and every loan program by focusing exclusively on aircraft financing. We provide exceptional terms coupled with personal service and a long-term commitment to support the business and shared passion of aviation. From Light Sport Aircraft to VLJs and Business Jets, AirFleet has a loan program to fit your needs. Call an AirFleet Capital financing specialist at (800) 390-4324, or request a quote online.
Citation Columbus: More than Just the Cabin Expanding back to top 

Cessna Releases Specs For New Citation Columbus Large-Cabin Jet

Cessna Aircraft Company revealed details of its recently announced large-cabin jet at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday. The intercontinental aircraft will be called the Model 850 Citation Columbus. The jet is designed for intercontinental travel, Cessna said, with a target range of 4,000 nautical miles at Mach .80 carrying eight passengers. The ship will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW810 engines. A Rockwell Collins integrated flight deck will go in the cockpit. The airframe will be all aluminum. Columbus will be Cessna's largest business jet. "This provides the perfect platform at the top end of our product line for customers looking for more space, more range, more economy and more capability," said Jack Pelton, chairman, president and CEO of Cessna. "This aircraft will be Cessna’s greatest achievement."

Preliminary performance numbers set a maximum cruise speed of 488 knots, a full fuel payload of 1,950 pounds and takeoff field length of 5,400 feet at maximum takeoff weight. The aircraft will measure 77 feet nose to tail and 80 feet wingtip to wingtip. Its cabin length of 36.3 feet, including interior baggage space, is the longest in its class by nearly two feet, says Cessna, and can hold up to 10 passengers. The initial price estimate for the Citation Columbus is $27 million. Cessna plans to achieve FAA certification by the end of 2013, with deliveries beginning in 2014.

How Fast Can Aircraft Insurance Brokers Get You an Answer ...
if they have to get it from someone else? That's a good question. At Avemco, with one simple phone call, you're talking directly with the aviation underwriter. Plus, Avemco offers consistent rates and coverage, as well as short, easy-to-understand policies. So if you're looking for direct answers to your aviation insurance needs, call Avemco directly at (888) 241-7891 or ask for a quote by visiting Avemco online.
The Costs of Flying back to top 

Maine Stands Fast On Aviator Tax Bills, Despite Protests

Maine is in a "state of confusion" when it comes to imposing onerous tax bills on out-of-state aviators, say the folks at AOPA, who have been trying to reason with officials there. "There is a fundamental fairness issue here," says AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Greg Pecoraro. He has met with Maine officials several times in an effort to help pilots who have been hit with tax bills of tens of thousands of dollars after flying their airplanes into the state. "Maine Revenue Services is misapplying the law," Pecoraro said, after a Jan. 10 meeting failed to achieve resolution. Maine officials have levied a "use tax" on out-of-state pilots who fly their airplanes into the state within 12 months of buying them, if they didn't pay a sales tax elsewhere. Since some states exempt aircraft from sales tax, dozens of pilots have been assessed taxes, fees, penalties and interest. AOPA will be back in Maine on Feb. 26 for a legislative hearing on a bill that would fix the problem, AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy told AVweb this week.

The bill would grant a sales and use tax exemption to all out-of-state aircraft, regardless of where they are used, where they were purchased outside of the state, or how much they weigh, said Pecoraro. Meanwhile, Massachusetts pilot Steve Kahn, who has been told by Maine that he owes $26,000 for flying his Cirrus SR22 to his Maine summer home, has exhausted his administrative appeals and filed an appeal in state court. "Maine Revenue Services is ... arbitrarily combining statutes in the Maine tax code to suit their purposes," Kahn told AOPA. "The result is to blindside pilots with huge tax bills — knowing full well that they will be caught by surprise!" AOPA is continuing to work with the Maine governor's office in an effort to provide relief for affected pilots.

Oregon Pilots Working To Prevent Ethanol Mandate

A new law that requires 10 percent ethanol in all auto fuel sold in Oregon is worrying pilots in the state. State officials said the law does not apply to aircraft fuels, but there is no mandate that ethanol-free fuel must be made available. "The fuel distributors we've talked to have all agreed that they would be willing to provide ethanol-free premium to airports, [but] they also say that it must be economical for them to do so," Oregon pilot Dennis Douglas told AVweb. Since they would have to import the fuel from out of state, and only a small percentage of aircraft in Oregon use autofuel, economic viability is problematic. For now, ethanol-free gas is still available in most counties, but the phased-in law will be implemented statewide by the end of this year. Pilots now are lobbying the state legislature to amend the law to exempt premium autofuel from the ethanol provisions for the next five years, so pilots can continue to buy fuel at gas stations.

Conventional wisdom suggests that, by five years from now, manufacturers of all affected equipment will have been able to work out a viable solution to the hazards created by burning ethanol-blended fuel, says EAA. Douglas said that since the affected pilot community is small, he hopes to build more support for changing the law among users of emergency generators, boats and motorcycles, who would also be affected by the fuel change.

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 shipment. For complete details, call Flight Resource at (866) 717-1117, or go online.
Events for '08 back to top 

Sun 'n Fun To Feature More LSAs, New Splash-In Site, Thunderbirds

While it's still deep winter in much of the country, this year's edition of Sun 'n Fun is right around the corner, with spring not far behind. This week, the FAA published the NOTAM with instructions for those who plan to fly in to Lakeland, Fla., for the show, which runs April 8 to 13. The amphibian "Splash-In," scheduled for April 10 and 11, is moving to a new site this year, at the lake adjoining Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight museum in Polk City. Also new this year, the Light Sport Aircraft folks are excited about their expanded display area right inside the entrance gate. "We'll have room for about 20 airplanes," Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, told AVweb this week. The site will have a welcome area, shade tents, engine displays, and lots of comfortable space for buyers and sellers to meet and interact, he said. This year's show will also feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

And of course the AVweb team will be there to bring you fresh news, pictures and video from the site.

NASA/CAFE Challenge Offers $300,000 In GA Prizes

NASA and the CAFE Foundation will host a $300,000 General Aviation Technology Challenge this August in Santa Rosa, Calif., to determine which small aircraft are most advanced in a number of measures that include fuel efficiency, quietness and safe handling. The idea is to encourage the development of GA aircraft that can fill the personal transportation needs of the future. Brien Seeley, president of the CAFE Foundation, told AVweb this week that this year's event will especially emphasize environmentally friendly technologies, and will introduce a new $50,000 Green Prize. The use of biofuel will be encouraged. The competition is open to experimental and production aircraft as well as light sport aircraft.

The competition is limited to 16 teams. Discounted registration is available for teams that sign up before Feb. 14.

Join NAA and Help Shape the Next Century of Flight
It's a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization. At $39 a year, NAA membership is a terrific value for any aviation enthusiast! Members receive the Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call (703) 527-0226 to become an NAA member, or sign up online.
News Briefs back to top 

On the Fly ...

The FAA has published its final rule regarding special training for pilots of Mitsubishi MU-2B series airplanes...

The search continues for Japanese balloonist Michio Kanda, who went missing last week while trying to cross the Pacific in a hot-air balloon. He had 20 days' worth of food and a life raft...

The European Union this week pledged to invest $3.2 billion to develop cleaner, greener aircraft...

The FAA this week hosted the 11th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference, in Arlington, Va., featuring a workshop on "The Future of Point-to-Point Suborbital Transportation"...

In 2007 Robinson Helicopter Company manufactured 823 new helicopters, the most civil helicopters ever produced in a single year by one company...

EAA's new online searchable calendar aims to gather nationwide aviation events in one place...

A helicopter pilot who hit power lines at night and crashed in Los Angeles in January had been scheduled to fly with an instructor, but shortly before the flight chose to go solo, the NTSB said in a preliminary report.

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.

Bennett Avionics: Used Avionics Guidance You Can Trust
Used avionics is Bennett Avionics' only business! Bennett Avionics has served general aviation worldwide with reliable and quality used avionics for over 30 years. Bennett Avionics can help you meet your avionics needs, improve the capability of your aircraft, and maintain your budget. Call Bennett Avionics at (860) 653-7295, or go online for a complete list of available products.
New on AVweb back to top 

A Pilot's History: Chap. 6 -- Peace and Civil Aviation

Post-WWII America seemed like a great place and time to be an ex-military pilot: Just join one of dozens of new startup airlines. When that one goes bankrupt, join another ... and another ...

Click here for the full story.

Probable Cause #51: Too Many Approaches

Caught by weather that was worse than anticipated, a Baron pilot has trouble getting established and eventually runs out of options.

Click here for the full story.

Build A Plane Relaunches Its eBay Auction Store
Build A Plane is a non-profit organization that solicits aircraft donations then redirects those airplanes to high schools and youth groups, with over 70 active projects worldwide. The eBay Auction Store supports this no-cost program. There are lots of new items that will make great gifts for your Valentine. For more information regarding Build A Plane's programs, call Katrina Bradshaw at (804) 843-3321. Click here to visit Build A Plane's eBay Auction Store.
We Want to Hear Your Voice back to top 

Question of the Week: Which Is More Likely to Ground You — Fuel Prices or User Fees?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Alaska governor Sarah Palin is proposing the state offer low-interest loans to help owners upgrade their avionics for ADS-B.  Last week, we asked AVweb readers if they thought that would be a good idea for the rest of the U.S.

A clear majority (57% of those who responded) agreed that since ADS-B is a federal mandate, the government should step up to assist owners with the transition.  Another 32% of you, however, felt that outfitting individual owners' planes with next-generation avionics shouldn't be taxpayers' responsibility.

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.)


In the past, we've asked about many factors that might limit (or even prohibit) you from flying recreationally. This week, AVweb reader Matt Bentson put the same question to us pretty directly, and we're passing the buck along to our readership:  Which is more likely to ground you first — rising fuel prices or the added expense of user fees?

Click here to answer.

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

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.

Tell Us About Your Interior Shop

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.

To take part in the online survey, click here.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

Choose the Flight Explorer Edition Right for You
Flight Explorer is an information system tracking commercial and general aviation flights. With the Flight Explorer Personal Edition, view air traffic for the U.S., Canada, or New Zealand and monitor and display real-time delay information, TFRs, SUAs, and more. With the Flight Explorer Pilot Edition, view weather along a route, receive alerts with your preliminary flight plan, and have an e-mail sent to someone on departure or arrival. Click here for more information and to subscribe.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: American Aviation West (KPGA in Page, AZ)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to American Aviation West at KPGA in Page, Arizona.

According to AVweb reader Scott A. Hauert, "These folks embody the spirit of aviators helping aviators" — and after hearing his story, we tend to agree.

Scott arrived early the morning for what he'd planned as a three-day stay in Page. "Bob, the Chief Pilot, could not have been more helpful if he had to," writes Scott. "He opened the FBO an hour early so we could stay on [a tight] schedule." When mechanical troubles reared their head, Scott became worried he wouldn't be able to get back, so Bob stayed late ("the same day he picked us up early") to let him back into the hangar. And when Scott had to leave bright and early the following morning, "one of the linemen picked us up."

Now that's what we call first-rate service!

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!

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 online.
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

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.


The winter chill continues to keep many of our contributors locked indoors watching the Discovery Channel instead of snapping photos for us in the great outdoors.  Nevertheless, a few dedicated souls have decided to spend their evenings curled up by the fire going through last summer's flying photos.  Our hat's off the them — literally, in the case of our weekly photo contest winner, who'll be receiving a sharp AVweb baseball cap in the mail in just a few short days.

medium | large

copyright © Don Parsons
Used with permission

Biplane Sunset

We often close out "Picture of the Week" with a spectacular sunset, but thanks to semi-regular contributor Don Parsons of St. Peters, Missouri, we'll reverse the trend — and kick off this week's edition with a sunset.

(Don't worry; the rest aren't all night photos.)



medium | large

Used with permission of Larry F. Baum

Aerostar, Fall 2007

"On a beautiful autumn day, I did a number of photos of our 1979 Aerostar," writesLarry Baum of Ithaca, New York.  "Most were ordinary, [but] this one just has a nice feel to it."


medium | large

Used with permission of Doug Gaudette

Best Seat in the House

Hey, it's Doug Gaudette of Xenia, Ohio — back in the very same spot for an eerie two weeks in a row, this time showing off that he's "mile-high in a powered paraglider."

We think you might be having a bit too much fun out there, Doug.  Maybe it's time for a week of watching TV and picking up around the house, eh?


medium | large

copyright © Salvatore Slusher
Used with permission

By Air or by Sea

Salvatore Slusher of Wentzville, Missouri snapped this while on vacation in Victoria (Canada).

(How long 'til it's summer again?)


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Used with permission of Jake Bell

How Many Pilots Does It Take ... ?

Jake Bell of Danville, Kentucky assures us that yes, "they're all pilots and that's at an airport."  Is it any wonder we love this photo?

Want more reader-submitted photos?
You'll find bonus images in the "POTW" slideshow on our home page.

Don't forget to send us your own photos!

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, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an 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.