AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 7b

February 14, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News back to top 

Congress Seeks Results On Runway Safety Issues

Progress on reducing runway incursions is impeded by a lack of leadership in the FAA as well as technology challenges, a Congressional committee was told by Gerald Dillingham, of the Government Accountability Office, on Wednesday. Dillingham's report also cited NTSB concerns about air traffic controller fatigue, which may result from regularly working overtime. The House Subcommittee on Aviation convened the hearing to discuss how runway safety can be improved. AOPA President Phil Boyer said his group will commit to expanding programs to educate pilots in 2008, but the FAA also needs to do more to make runway safety "a national priority." The FAA said it is expediting its certification process to get better equipment into cockpits faster. "We are actively working on an application from Jeppesen [for a GPS moving-map system], and we expect they will complete certification soon," the FAA said in a fact sheet released on Tuesday.

The Congressional panel also heard testimony from spokesmen for the NTSB, NATCA, the Air Line Pilots Association, Honeywell, and airport advocacy groups. The FAA's Hank Krakowski, chief operating officer of the Air Traffic Organization, said the agency will create a new Runway Council Working Group to identify and address the issues.

Piston Sales Slip Slightly

Piston single sales continue to buck the trend in a generally robust general aviation industry. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released its annual statistics (PDF) on aircraft deliveries, and piston aircraft sales were down slightly at 2,675, compared to 2,755 in 2006. Business jets simply blew away other sectors in all aspects. "Aside from the record set for year-end billings, the industry also experienced an all-time high in business jet shipments, delivering over 1,000 units for the first time in history," GAMA reported. In fact, business jets accounted for more than 25 percent of the impressive total of 4,272 aircraft sold in 2007, with 1,186 delivered. The business jet tally was up 28.4 percent over 2006's total of 886. Turboprop numbers were also up at 459 compared to 412 last year.

Cessna sold a total of 807 piston aircraft (including one each of the Columbia derived 350 and 400 models). The 172 accounted for almost half of the piston sales at 373 but the 182 wasn't far behind at 301. Cirrus sold 710 aircraft and its SR22 was by far the most popular aircraft model with 588 deliveries. On the business jet front Cessna delivered a total of 388. The most popular was the XLS (82), followed by the CJ3 (78). Cessna shipped 45 entry-level Mustangs in 2007, a number that will go up considerably this year as production ramps up in Independence. Cessna sold by far the most airplanes, a total of 1,274 piston, turboprop and jet aircraft. But the $3.9 billion derived from those sales was far behind the money leader. Bombardier's 226 deliveries were worth $5.2 billion. Gulfstream, with 136 deliveries, collected $4.8 billion. Hawker Beechcraft sold 351 aircraft, most of them jets and King Airs, and took in revenue of almost $1.9 billion.

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The Latest on Closings back to top 

Adam Employees Hopeful, Industry Less So

There appears to be little optimism among aviation industry leaders that Adam Aircraft will be resurrected. Sources speaking on condition of anonymity have told AVweb that the prevailing opinion is that the company will fold. Adam officials are expected to reach a decision on the future by the end of this week after suspending operations on Monday. Hours after being sent home, employees gathered JD's Bait Shop Sports Grill were relatively upbeat. According to the Denver Post, rather than crying in their beers, the 20 or so Adam employees there expressed hope that someone with money will see the company they way they do. "We're all here tonight because we love this company," quality control worker Ray Romero told the Post. "We want to be there, but there's no money. We're a privately funded company. We have a beautiful product." About 500 remaining workers got the word after lunch on Monday that Adam had failed to raise the $100 million it needs to get the A700 jet certified and in production and to ramp up production of the already-certified A500 piston twin. Adam spokeswoman Shelly Simi also held out hope that funding could be found. "It's a very dynamic situation. We are looking at alternatives," she told AVwebBiz in a phone interview. A final decision on the fate of the company is expected within a week.

In a news release, Adam said it was forced to close the doors "due to the inability of the company to come to terms with their lender for funding necessary to maintain business operations." The news release doesn't identify the lender but previous rounds of financing, totaling almost $300 million, have included such major investment houses as Goldman, Sachs and Co. and Hunt Growth Capital as participants. In January, Adam announced that it needed $30.5 million in interim financing to allow its current financial partner, Citibank, the time to find the $75 million to $150 million it needed to get into production and start selling against a backlog of orders the company estimated to be worth $1 billion, according to some reports. In a letter to shareholders leaked to the media in late January, CEO John Wolf said that if the company didn't have the $30.5 million by the end of January, the company was likely doomed.

As little as a week ago, company officials were claiming that the search for funding was continuing and that production of the fifth A700 jet was under way. The jet has not achieved FAA certification but the A500 push/pull piston twin has. Adam has reportedly sold 17 of the piston aircraft and delivered seven. Meanwhile, the city of Pueblo, Colo., didn't wait for Monday's announcement to demand $2 million in incentives it says should be returned. The city says Adam promised to create 448 jobs and actually created about 90, most of which disappeared in a round of layoffs and plant consolidations in January. The city of Pueblo has placed liens against Adam's equipment in the city-owned buildings that were part of the incentive package.

Related Content:
Read what AVweb Editor Russ Niles wishes Adam had done in our AVweb Insider blog ...

Lawsuits Build Against Silver State Helicopters Founder Airola, Lenders

Lawyers from across the country are busily rallying former students of Nevada-based Silver State Helicopters, which abruptly went out of business and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection two weeks ago.

As many as 2,700 students paid about $70,000 each for the proposed 18-month training program, which many never completed. Peter C. Lown, an aviation attorney from Jonesboro, Ga., told AVweb that last weekend he met with about 150 potential plaintiffs in Arizona and plans to meet with a similar group in Georgia this weekend. He plans to file suits against Silver State’s founder Jerry Airola and, possibly, the banks that lent students money. "One of the problems is that many of these people don’t know what kind of loan they have," Lown said. As of Wednesday afternoon, Student Loan XPress, the primary originator of student loans to Silver State students, had not filed a claim with the bankruptcy court and did not respond to repeated requests by AVweb for information about the number and type of outstanding loans made to Silver State students. It is not known how many of the loans were private loans and how many, if any, were federally guaranteed, but Lown told AVweb that some of the people he’s spoken with were paying 17 percent interest or more.

While the bankruptcy trustee spends the coming months poring through thousands of claims (it has a special hotline established just for this case), former students and employees are posting to message boards and telling AVweb that signs of the company’s impending demise began to surface in October 2007.

Jimmie "Tri" Evans was the first student enrolled at the Houston location when it opened in 2006. He told AVweb that around the time that he earned his instructor’s certificate last fall, rumors began to spread internally that the company was in trouble. "Some people had started to get the indication that it might be occurring, then we were sent e-mails that it was just a rumor, and not to worry," he said. Evans said that at one point the Houston school had 60 students and just one helicopter that had to be ferried 130 miles away to Silver State’s New Braunfels, Texas, location for maintenance. "We couldn’t fit everybody into the helicopters we had. I remember flying until midnight or at four in the morning because that’s when they had a helicopter," Evans said.

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From the FAA back to top 

FAA Rewards Efforts To Reduce Aviation's Environmental Impact

The FAA is presenting its 2007 Excellence in Aviation Research Awards to Professor Ian Waitz at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to a U.S. Air Force fuel research team. "Aviation needs to continue to get greener," said FAA spokesman Dan Elwell. "Dr. Waitz and the Air Force team are taking the steps to put a big dent in aviation’s environmental footprint. Their work is going to make a difference across the face of our entire planet." Waitz and his research team are working on ways to reduce air and noise pollution from aviation. The U.S. Air Force team has developed a synthetic fuel blend for the B-52 fleet. The blended fuel has less exhaust smoke and fewer particulate emissions than standard fuel.

The synthetic fuel is not only cleaner, but could potentially save millions of dollars and reduce dependence on foreign sources of oil, the FAA said. This is the 10th year that the Excellence in Aviation Research Award has been presented. The awards are given to individuals and/or institutions outside the FAA whose research contributions have resulted in a significantly safer, more efficient national airspace system.

Hawker Beechcraft Type Certifies Hawker 750

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation announced on Tuesday that the FAA has awarded type certification to its newest aircraft, the light-midsize Hawker 750. The Hawker 750 has the same fuselage and wings as the midsize Hawker 800 series, providing the largest cabin in the light-midsize aircraft segment, the company says. The new model aims to reach new customers for the company, and is already sold out through 2010. "This aircraft has the perfect combination of reliability and operating efficiency, while incorporating a large luxurious cabin with internal and external baggage areas," said Brad Hatt, president, Commercial Aircraft. The 750, which can carry up to eight passengers, has a 2,116-nm NBAA IFR range.

It will be driven by two Honeywell TFE731-5BR engines. Prices start at $12.2 million.

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Upgrading Everything from Parts to the System back to top 

NextGen Weather Gurus Seek Industry Input

How will operators use the advanced weather information and tools promised by the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)? The Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) hosted a conference in Washington, D.C., this week to collect ideas on the matter from various government and industry subject matter experts. More than 200 people attended.

“We’re living in a system where we operate at capacity or where weather forces demand to exceed capacity,” said Ken Leonard, director of the FAA’s Aviation Weather Office. Weather accounts for 70 percent of all flight delays now, he said, but with improved coordination and dissemination of weather data among pilots and air traffic controllers that number could be slashed.

The NextGen concept envisions a system where aircraft are electronically networked, sharing data with each other and with air traffic control in a carefully orchestrated dance. But today, “everybody’s out there in bad weather doing their own thing, and honestly that doesn’t work,” said Kirk Shaffer, FAA associate administrator for airports. Jim May, president of the Air Transport Association, said that airlines are spending more than $1 billion a year dealing with weather delays. Phil Boyer, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said that while many general aviation aircraft are far better equipped to receive and display weather information than some airliners, “affordability is key” when it comes to delivering on the promises of NextGen.

Midwest Modifications Offers Mooney Upgrades

Two power-boosting changes for Mooney aircraft by Midwest Modifications have been granted STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) approval from the FAA, the company announced on Tuesday. One STC allows the company to modify the 280-hp turbocharged engine of the Mooney Acclaim to increase the maximum power to 310 hp. With this change, Midwest says, the Mooney Acclaim and Acclaim Type S versions will take off with a shorter roll, climb at a higher rate and reach top speed faster. Midwest Modifications also won FAA approval to install the Hartzell composite propeller for three Mooney models -- M20R, S, and TN. The composite propeller is about 16 pounds lighter than the metal prop and offers a boost in climb performance, the company said.

Midwest Modifications is located in Flora, Ill.

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News Briefs back to top 

Reel Stuff Film Festival Debuts In Dayton

The National Aviation Hall of Fame will host the First Annual Reel Stuff Film Festival of Aviation on April 24-26 in Dayton, Ohio. The series of eight classic and contemporary Hollywood productions and documentary films will celebrate aviation history and the passion for flight. Each movie will be introduced by an actor, producer, aerial coordinator or cinematographer associated with its production, and an audience question-and-answer session will follow. Actor Cliff Robertson will introduce the 1964 drama "633 Squadron," and aviator Clay Lacy will introduce the 1986 hit "Top Gun" and the 2005 IMAX film "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag." Lacy was a pioneer in developing the air-to-air cinematic techniques used in both films.

The other films will be the classics "Battle Hymn" and "Battle of Britain," and the documentaries "One Six Right," "Pancho Barnes!" and "Speed and Angels." A schedule of Reel Stuff showtimes and locations, ticket prices (about $10 per film), packages, presenters' bios, hotels, and other details can be found online.

On the Fly ...

The Alaska Airmen's Association is raffling off a Supercub and tickets are $50 each. For more info send e-mail...

Red Bull will host two air races in the U.S. this year, adding Detroit to the schedule, plus San Diego and eight other cities around the world...

Diamond Aircraft's Chinese production facility has been awarded production authority for the DA40-TDI...

King Schools awarded a Cessna 172S this week to sweepstakes winner Dale North, of Madison, Tenn. ...

NASA has scholarships in aeronautics to give away to deserving students; click here for the info.

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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AVweb Exclusive Coverage of ABACE in Hong Kong back to top 

ABACE: Olympics Kickstarts BizAv Growth

National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen opened the third Asian Business Association Conference and Exhibition today in Hong Kong by telling delegates the economic growth in the region makes aviation a natural partner for success. "There is no doubt that the future is bright for business aviation in Asia. China, in particular, as one of the fastest growing economies in the world and fueled by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games brings exciting opportunities for business aviation growth," he told the opening session.

Attendees and exhibitors are shivering in an unseasonably cold Hong Kong for the show. ABACE is smaller than last year, but is demonstrating that it still has value for manufacturers and regional operators. About 50 exhibitors and 800 registered attendees have flown in from all over the world and there is obviously brisk business afoot, with customer demonstrations and tours going on all day.

Click here for the complete story.

National Business Aviation Association President Ed Bolen opened the third Asian Business Association Conference and Exhibition today in Hong Kong by telling delegates the economic growth in the region makes aviation a natural partner for success.

"There is no doubt that the future is bright for business aviation in Asia. China, in particular, as one of the fastest growing economies in the world and fueled by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games brings exciting opportunities for business aviation growth," he told the opening session.

Attendees and exhibitors are shivering in an unseasonably cold Hong Kong for the show. ABACE is smaller than last year, but is demonstrating that it still has value for manufacturers and regional operators. About 50 exhibitors and 800 registered attendees have flown in from all over the world and there is obviously brisk business afoot, with customer demonstrations and tours going on all day.

Officially there are 11 aircraft on display on the static, although there are several others out on the apron. Bombardier's offerings include a Global Express, a Challenger 605, and a Challenger 300. Cessna has brought a Citation Sovereign. Dassault has a Falcon 900EX. Eclipse is here with its EA500, whilst Embraer is showing a Legacy 600. Gulfstream has a G550, G450, and G150 and Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is showing a Hawker 950XP.

Airbus has announced new sales into region, including a second A350 XWB Prestige to an undisclosed Asian customer. It also announced an ACJ Prestige order, again to an unnamed customer, due to be managed by Hong Kong based BAA Jet Management, which manages aircraft in both Hong Kong and Mainland China. This is the third ACJ on the company's books. BAA also announced that it will take delivery of a second Gulfstream G200, and two Dassault Falcon 900EX EASy jets, bringing its managed Dassault fleet up to four. And in news that will please Gulfstream operators throughout the region, another Hong Kong-based company, MetroJet, announced that it has been upgraded to a full Gulfstream authorized repair facility, meaning it can offer both regular line maintenance and heavy checks. MetroJet now carries an inventory of $9 million on-site spares at its facility at Hong Kong's Business Aviation Centre at Chep Lap Kok airport.

In other news, Hawker Pacific is due to open China's first FBO in Shanghai later this year and the inaugural 2008 Taipei International Business Aviation Forum will take place at Shongsham Downtown Airport between May 29-31. There will be an indoor exhbition as well as a static display and seminars. Said organizer Shaun Huang, Adviser to the Chinese Aviation and Space Industry Development Association: "This is aimed at being both educational and promotional. We are trying to make it a breakthrough event and get jets from China to come over to Taiwan."

That ABACE is here at all is thanks to the efforts of the Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), a group of companies committed to developing business aviation in one of the toughest international markets to crack. The association held its annual general meeting yesterday, which focused on the need for the industry to speak with a common voice. Speaking at ABACE's opening general session today, AsBAA Chairman Chuck Woods announced that the association is restructuring "with the target of raising awareness of what business aviation is about."

Customer desire for private aviation is here, but educating Asian officialdom is a daily battle. Operators have to deal with issues unthinkable in the U.S. or Europe. Woods said that every state treats business aviation as "a second-class citizen." For example, it can take two days to book a landing slot in Tokyo; ten days for permission to fly to Myanmar and foreign crews in China are given visas for a maximum of four days at a time.

On the plus side, the Taiwanese government has recently relaxed restrictions, there are incentives for operators in Singapore to develop their activities and China has promised to add 33 new airports by 2010. Woods also pointed out that China has a robust economy and businesses have an increasing need for international trips including high-level corporate travel. There is a new affluence in the region, particularly in Macau, which is fast becoming the Las Vegas of the East and there is a strong wish for luxury private leisure travel.

At the moment there are fewer than 500 turbo-powered aircraft in Asia, not including Australasia and India. However, this is partly due to availability as prospective owners join the rest of the world and queue for slots. The mood on site is bullish, despite the cold and according to Woods "there is only one way to go and that's up."

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New on AVweb back to top 

Exclusive Video: Amazing Feats of Aviation — DHL Baghdad

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

Recounting one of the most impressive feats in recent aviation history, AVweb video editor Glenn Pew recalls the circumstances of the DHL A300 shot by a surface-to-air missile over Baghdad. The crew successfully landed the aircraft without the ability to manipulate any control surfaces. (Note: The aircraft shown in simulation is a Boeing 777, not an Airbus A300.)

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Related Content:
Our original news report
PowerPoint slide show (.pps)

The Savvy Aviator #54: How Much Insurance Do You Need?

It's important to carry enough liability insurance to protect your net worth. When it comes to hull insurance, however, having too much is almost as bad as having too little.

Click here for the full story.

Bob, the owner of a Cessna 172RG, found himself in an unexpected predicament. Seems he had an unfortunate gear-up landing. The airplane suffered only minimal damage, largely limited to minor belly damage and the outer four inches of the prop tips curled back. The engine had only about 100 hours SMOH at the time of the incident. Surely, all of this would be covered by insurance.

Unfortunately, Bob was about to learn a painful lesson about hull insurance. He recently told me his story:

"When I bought the $60,000 hull-insurance policy, I didn't read the fine print that said $60,000 wasn't really available to fix the airplane in the event of a mishap. The actual amount available is the $60,000 policy limit minus the salvage value. The insurance company claims that they can get about $15,000 for the airplane for salvage, which only leaves me with about $45,000 to get the airplane fixed.

"Now here's the rub: The repair shop has given a flat-rate bid of $41,000 plus tax to repair the airframe and do the requisite post-prop-strike engine-teardown inspection. However, the bid explicitly excludes the cost of any necessary engine repairs beyond replacement of routine parts (rings, bearings, gaskets, etc.). Mattituck [an engine overhaul company] tells me that if the teardown inspection reveals the crankshaft or crankcase (or both) is damaged, the additional cost to repair could wind up being tens of thousands of dollars.

"Looking at the risk equation: In the best-case scenario, the repair cost is $41,000 plus tax and the insurance will cover it (just barely). In the worst-case scenario (if the case and crank are bad), I could wind up being out of pocket as much as $20,000, which would be painful. Alternatively, I could let the insurance company take the airplane, accept the $60,000 payout, and move on. But the airplane is only minimally damaged, and losing it under these circumstances would also be painful. What should I do?"

I discussed the various options with Bob. I pointed out that, should he opt to have the aircraft repaired, even in the best-case scenario he would wind up with an aircraft that had substantial damage history and impaired resale value, and in the worst-case scenario he'd wind up having a lot more invested than the aircraft was worth.

I suggested that, setting aside his emotional attachment to the machine, the most logical course of action might well be to take the $60,000 and go shopping for another airplane. (A look at Aircraft Shopper Online revealed that 1980 Cessna 172RGs have asking prices between $50,000 and $70,000.) I also suggested that, if Bob decides to repair the airplane, he might do better working with a smaller engine shop that specializes in prop-strike teardown inspections rather than with a big shop like Mattituck, and I offered him a couple of referrals.

Twin Perils

Bob's predicament reminded me of my recent phone conversation with Frank, a good friend who owns a Cessna T310R like mine. Frank flies it about 250 hours a year on business. Frank's 1978 T310R is a gorgeous machine, with low-time RAM engines and props, recent paint and interior, and a panel full of glass that leaves me drooling in envy.

In the course of a wide-ranging chat about flying and airplanes, our conversation turned to aircraft insurance. Frank and I compared notes on what insurance agencies we each used, who underwrote our policies, and what annual premiums we were paying. Frank's premiums were nearly double what I was paying. As we pursued the matter further, Frank revealed that he was carrying nearly $300,000 worth of hull insurance on his airplane.

"Wow, that seems like an awful lot of hull coverage," I said. "Have you looked at Trade-A-Plane recently? The piston GA market is really depressed right now, and that goes double for piston twins. I bet the current fair market value of your T310R isn't anywhere close to $300,000. I bet it's well under $200,000."

Frank admitted that he hadn't been paying much attention to the market lately, and that it was quite likely that his airplane wouldn't fetch anywhere near $300,000 if he tried to sell it now. "But, if I wrecked my airplane, I bet it would take at least $300,000 to buy a replacement and get it equipped and refurbished to match what I'm flying now."

More Might Be Worse

I explained to my friend the perils of buying too much hull coverage.

"Frank, if you overinsure your hull for $300,000 coverage limits and then you have an accident that seriously trashes the airplane, you've got a real problem. Rather than declaring your airplane a total loss and handing you a check for $300,000, the insurance company could very well decide to reimburse you for $175,000 in repairs. That could mean that you might be flying the airlines for six to 12 months while your aircraft is being extensively rebuilt, and in the end you'd wind up owning an aircraft with extensive damage history and impaired resale value. This is probably not the outcome you want."

At the same time, underinsuring the hull is also perilous. If Frank insured his hull for $130,000 and then made a gear-up landing that did only minimal damage to the airframe, the insurance company would probably declare the aircraft a total loss and hand Frank a check for $130,000. The company would then take possession of the Frank's T310R, pay for a pair of props and teardown inspections and some minor airframe repairs, and then sell the airplane to someone else for perhaps $175,000. Again, this is probably not the optimum result for Frank.

As a general rule of thumb, if you have an aircraft accident and the estimated cost to repair exceeds 75 to 85 percent of your hull insurance policy limit (sometimes called "stated value"), the company will declare the aircraft to be a total loss, take possession of the wreck, and pay you the coverage limit (less any deductibles). The insurance company will then try to obtain whatever value they can from the wreck, either by selling it to a salvage yard or by having it repaired and selling it on the market. On the other hand, if the estimated cost to repair is less than 75 to 85 percent of your policy limit, the insurance company will let you keep your aircraft and pay for the repairs.

The moral here is always to insure your aircraft for precisely what it's worth -- i.e., its current fair market value -- and not more nor less.

What's It Worth?

Consequently, it's prudent to reevaluate the fair market value of your airplane annually prior to renewing your aircraft insurance policy. Your hull coverage limits should be adjusted up or down each year as necessary to reflect the realities of the market.

For this purpose, many aircraft owners utilize AOPA's online Aircraft Valuation Service provided by Vref at no cost to AOPA members. However, be aware that the Vref valuations are notorious for being overoptimistic, sometimes shockingly so. Generally, Vref valuations can be used as asking prices, but the actual prices at which aircraft change hands is usually substantially less. Not surprisingly, if you use a Vref valuation to establish how much hull coverage you buy each year, you're quite likely to be overinsured.

There's a better way. Every year, a few weeks before my aircraft insurance comes up for renewal, I purchase a QuickQuote valuation report from Bill Hemmel's Aeroprice service. For just $15.95 for singles and $19.95 for twins, you get an extremely complete valuation of your aircraft, performed by an actual human being and taking many more variables into account than any computer-generated service. The QuickQuote report is emailed to you the next business day. In my view, it's one of the best bargains in aviation.

I get a QuickQuote each November just prior to renewing my insurance. Last November, for example, I discovered the fair market value of my airplane had declined from $185,000 to $165,000 due to very soft market conditions. When I renewed my policy, I lowered the hull limits accordingly, saving me about $500/year in premiums. If the twin market rebounds in a year or two -- or if my hull value increases because I finally bite the bullet and overhaul my 800-hours-past-TBO engines -- I'll raise my coverage accordingly.

Liability Limits

In addition to hull coverage, your aircraft policy insures you for liability in case you hurt someone or something while operating your aircraft. The liability coverage pays for a lawyer to defend you (or your estate) in the ensuing civil litigation; and if the plaintiffs prevail, it will pay them damages up to the policy coverage limits.

The overwhelming majority of aircraft owners purchase $1 million of liability coverage. That's because it's generally accepted that anything less than $1 million is simply not sufficient to protect against air-crash litigation, and more than $1 million is extremely difficult to get in today's ultra-tight aviation insurance market. (And if you can get it, it's painfully expensive).

However, not all $1 million liability policies are created equal. Some offer $1 million "combined single limit" coverage (colloquially known as "smooth"), while other policies include per-person or per-seat sublimits -- often $100,000 per person or $100,000 per seat.

There's a huge difference between "smooth" and sublimit coverage. If you crash and your sole passenger sustains severe injuries, a smooth policy will pay up to a million bucks to cover his damages, while a sublimits policy will pay only 10% of that amount.

Not worried because you never fly with anyone but family and close friends in your airplane? Think again. If you and your sibling or closest friend die in a crash, you can bet that your passenger's widow will hire the most aggressive personal-injury lawyer she can find to sue your estate and make sure your widow winds up with as little as possible.

Sublimit coverage might be OK if you always fly solo or if you have minimal assets, but most aircraft owners don't fall into that category. For most of us, smooth liability coverage is a must -- and it's becoming more and more difficult to find. Some underwriters refuse to write anything but sublimit liability coverage, and others will renew smooth coverage for existing customers but won't offer it to new applicants.

See you next month.

Want to read more from Mike Busch? Check out the rest of his Savvy Aviator columns.
And use this link to send questions to Mike.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: North Las Vegas Airport (VGT, Las Vegas, NV)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the FBO at North Las Vegas Airport (VGT) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

AVweb's own Mike Busch has nominated these folks before, pointing out that "the same customer service people have been working there for as long as I can remember (zero turnover), so they really know what they're doing." In addition, Mike tells us, "The facility is very nice, and the avgas prices are always extremely competitive (particularly at the self-serve island close to the GA terminal). There's a regular shuttle service that runs between the GA terminal and the hotels on the Strip."

So why is Mike so eager to have us make VGT's FBO our "FBO of the Week"? Well, there's this:

About my only complaint is that there's a restaurant up on the second floor of the terminal building with a lovely view of the airport, but they seem to have a hard time keeping it open. It has changed hands a number of times and keeps going out of business, which is a bummer. Maybe if VGT [is] the "FBO of the Week," it'll get so much new business that they can keep the restaurant open!

One can only hope! Congrats to the folks at VGT for running such a tight operation. (Mike, bring us back a hamburger.)

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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Share Your Voice back to top 

Question of the Week: The Future of Adam Aircraft

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked which of general aviation's twin boogeymen was most likely to ground you — user fees or skyrocketing fuel prices.

While fuel prices continue to be a thorn in the side to those of us who fly for fun, user fees garnered 57% of the vote this week.

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.)


Following Adam Aircraft's decision to suspend operations on Monday, there have been quite a few long faces among fans of very light jets. Do you think Adam will be resurrected?

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.

Understanding Your Airplane's Mechanics Could Save Your Bank Account
Light Plane Maintenance is the monthly magazine for aircraft owners who aren't satisfied with just flying. Aircraft repair can be simple when explained in concise, step-by-step details. If you want to truly learn about the workings of your airplane (and save a few dollars, too), Light Plane Maintenance is for you. Order online today and receive LPM's 40 Top Maintenance Tips as a gift.
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 number of submissions to our weekly photo contest may have crept up again this week — but the quality skyrocketed! With so many gorgeous photos in our submission box, we're jumping straight to the goods. (Watch for an extra-large batch of bonus pics in this week's slideshow on our home page.)

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copyright © Justin Heitman
Used with permission

Newcastle Sunset

With a scene so evocative we can hardly believe it was taken "in the backyard of a client's house," Justin Heitman of Airlie Beach, Queensland (Australia) claims the top spot today. Justin and crew were "on the way to a helicopter safari with 11 helicopters traveling through Tasmania" when he snapped this on his Nikon.

Simply gorgeous. Thanks for the image, Justin! Naturally, we'll be sending out a sharp new baseball cap emblazoned with the AVweb logo. Maybe it'll bring you a little slice of serenity in return. (We can only hope!)


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copyright © Michael J. Gallagher
Used with permission

Cruising at Sunset Over the Late Summer Fields of Central Indiana

Michael J. Gallagher of Peoria, Illinois serves up a dynamic shot of Grayout Aerosports' Billy Werth.


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Used with permission of Chris Zavatson

Night Time at Nellis

Chris Zavatson of Woodland, California hung around a bit after the air show at Nellis Air Force Base and was rewarded with the peaceful majesty that can only be found when things quiet down after a show.


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Used with permission of Leonard R. Duncil

Sun 'n Fun Is Coming ...

You don't need to remind us of that fact, Leonard Duncil of Titusville, Florida!  We've already made our hotel reservations, started registering for press passes, and trying to remember where we packed away our short pants!  We'll see you (and these Iron Eagles you were so kind to snap) in just a few weeks, friend!


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Used with permission of Jake Bell

Just Having Fun

Gerald Benson of Alva, Oklahoma sees us off this week.

Until next time — have a little fun of your own (and take pictures)!


Need more great pictures?
Check out the bonus photo in the "POTW" slideshow on our home page.

(And 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.