AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 14, Number 10a

March 3, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Terrorism Watch I: Protecting the Schools back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

TSA Disputes Flight School Security Claims

The Transportation Security Administration says Sen. Chuck Schumer is wrong about claims that thousands of foreign nationals are getting flight training without the required documentation and background checks. "Each and every foreign national that applies for flight training at any FAA-certified school anywhere in the world is checked by TSA prior to beginning that training," TSA spokesman Jon Allen told The Associated Press. 
Schumer told reporters that there are 8,000 foreign nationals illegally taking flying lessons in the U.S. That’s the same number used in an ABC News investigation that reached the same conclusion as Schumer but in a less colorful manner. Schumer didn’t say where he got his information from but he left no doubt as to how he felt about it. "This is 9/11, or at least the failure that led up to 9/11, all over again," said Schumer, a New York Democrat. The ABC report quoted leaked TSA memos and a retired FAA inspector as claiming that foreigners were getting lessons and pilot certificates without being vetted by the TSA. The 8,000 figure apparently came from ABC’s FAA source, Bill McNease, who said he found 8,000 foreign students in the FAA database who earned their pilot certificates without being vetted by the TSA.

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Boeing & EADS in Stiff Competition back to top 

Air Force To Fly Airbus

Anyone who thought the drawn-out battle to choose the new generation Air Force tanker aircraft ended with the Pentagon’s decision Friday to go with the Northrop-Grumman/EADS consortium likely has another think coming. "This won't be pretty," Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., told The Seattle Times Saturday. "There will be a firestorm of criticism on Capitol Hill,” Dicks, whose Seattle-area district depends heavily on Boeing for its economic well-being, warned. Although the loss of the $40 billion deal is not expected to result in any job losses at Boeing, the contract would have created up to 8,000 additional jobs and kept the 767 assembly line going well beyond 2012 when the last commercial 767 is finished. It’s an election year in which the economy is in trouble and protectionist sentiments have been expressed by both Democratic presidential nomination contenders. Not only that, the leading Republican contender is remembered as the politician that killed the original contract awarded to Boeing in 2003, so it would seem the tanker issue will have pretty long legs.

"We should have an American tanker built by an American company with American workers," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., whose district includes Boeing’s Wichita plant. Leading Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have both been trumpeting protectionist policies of late but it’s Republican front-runner John McCain who might face the most scrutiny. It was pressure from McCain that scotched a 2003 award to Boeing for a total of 100 767-based tankers. McCain alleged favoritism in the bidding process and the Pentagon rescinded the contract in 2004. Now there are allegations the most recent bidding process was changed to favor the Airbus/Northrop Grumman bid. In the end, it may well be the U.S.-first sentiment that dominates the chorus of discontent. "Obviously, Congress is going to react to the American public," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said. "You can put an American sticker on a plane and call it American, but that doesn't make it American-made." Which aircraft will do the best job for the best price does not seem to figure into the current debate.

French Jobs Lost By Winning Tanker Contract

Not everyone associated with the EADS/Northrop-Grumman victory in the Air Force tanker contract is celebrating. The union representing workers at EADS Toulouse factories claims the deal will cost French jobs because of the consortium’s commitment to build an assembly plant for the tankers in Mobile, Ala. In 2006, EADS agreed to build a plant in China to win contracts there and the CFDT union claims that’s chipping away at the French workforce. British unions are hailing the contract saying it will secure thousands of jobs in plants that build major structures like wings. And, of course, Mobile couldn’t be happier about the decision. Civic and state officials are portraying the contract award as turning point for the social and economic structure of the area. "The opportunities for decades to come are just so real and so big. It's really kinda hard to put it all in perspective," Congressman Jo Bonne told WKRG. The first priority is upgrading Brookley Field to accommodate the factory and the traffic it will generate.

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Quotes reprinted with permission: Professional Pilot, 2007 Headset Preference Survey, 12/07; Aviation Consumer, 8/07.
Aircraft Taxes & You back to top 

Sales Tax Exemption And Colorado Aircraft

Last week, the Colorado House of Representatives passed by a vote of 65-0 House Bill 1261, which exempts sales tax on new or used aircraft purchased out of state, following the state's loss of Adam Aircraft. Adam's recent end of operations cut 500 jobs and it is hoped the bill will encourage other manufacturers and distributors to do business. The existing law "makes it difficult, if not impossible, for aircraft manufacturers to locate in this state," the bill's co-sponsor, Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, told the Denver Business Journal. Buescher, who formerly ran an aircraft maintenance company, said the current system encourages sellers to move their aircraft out of state prior to official sale to avoid sales and use taxes. The bill will now move to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. It was originally introduced last year along with a business and economic-development agenda for 2008, put forth by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

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Terrorism Watch II: Protecting the Skies back to top 

Military Pushes Terrorism/UAV Connection

Military experts are warning that unmanned aerial drones could be very easily assembled and used by terrorists to conduct aerial attacks ... but, for pilots, the warning's wording may be more disturbing. "Sooner or later we're going to see a Cessna programmed to fly into a building," Rear Admiral Chris Parry told The Associated Press. The Rear Admiral went on to describe such potential attacks as "cheap" and "about as difficult to detect as a blackbird." The idea is not new. In 2003 six Hamas militants were killed in an explosion while working with a remote-controlled aircraft intended for use in an attack. Rear Admiral Parry is not counting on future outcomes to always end similarly. In 2006 an informant told the FBI he was aware of a plot to fit a model aircraft with explosives. The military warns that use of such inexpensive, simple means of delivery may continue to prove seductive to potential terrorists and even drug traffickers. Parry also suggested the aircraft could one day be used to ferry illegal substances across expanses of inhospitable territory.

Sensenich Does It Again!
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News Briefs back to top 

B-2 Spirit Crash Update

The B-2 Spirit "Stealth Bomber" that crashed Saturday, Feb. 23, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, was on fire prior to the crash, according to a report cited by the Air Force Times. The fire, which was reported shortly after takeoff, was followed by an uncommanded and uncontrollable roll to the right. The aircraft crashed between the ramp and taxiway at approximately 10:45 a.m. local time, and not before both pilots had safely ejected. One of the pilots suffered spinal compression and as of Thursday remained in the hospital. The crashed aircraft, the Spirit of Kansas, a part of the 509th Bomber Wing, had more than 5,000 flight hours. The remaining fleet is not "grounded" but under a "safety pause," according to the Air Force -- the aircraft could be called to service if tasked with a mission. During the safety pause, six B-52s have arrived "to replace" the remaining three B-2s in Guam. An investigation is under way, led by a board of officers; no causal information had been released at the time of this writing.

Fatal Crash At EAA Pancake Breakfast

Two experimental aircraft collided on the ground Saturday, at non-towered Arthur Dunn Airpark in Titusville, Fla. At about 8:30 a.m., one of the aircraft (a Velocity XL RG) landed, was attempting to land or was performing a low pass when it struck the other aircraft (an RV-8) as it taxied. Two occupants aboard the experimental Van's RV were killed. After the impact, the four-seat Velocity canard cartwheeled for roughly 300 feet before coming to rest, inverted. Witnesses came to the aid of that aircraft's two occupants, who suffered severe burns and were taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center. One of those occupants had also passed by the time of this writing. Both had suffered life-threatening injuries. Bystanders told reporters that the landing aircraft's approach seemed unusual, but many informed witnesses preferred not to comment. The airport was busy with aircraft arriving for an EAA pancake breakfast. The pilot of the Velocity may be the sole survivor.

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News Briefs back to top 

Fired Pilot's Boss In Cockpit During Fly-By

As we reported last week, Ian Wilkinson, a senior Cathay Pacific captain, was fired three weeks after he did a high-speed, low-level pass over a Seattle-area airport in a new Boeing 777 he was delivering from the factory. It wasn’t the stunt that got him fired, it was the fact that he didn’t have permission to perform the fly-by, something the airline occasionally allows for airshows. But a story in Sunday’s Asian World News, reprinted by The Earth Times, raises the question of just how much authority Wilkinson needed, since the chairman of the airline, Christopher Pratt, was in a cockpit jumpseat for the whole performance. The airline confirmed that fact but said Pratt, who runs one of the biggest airlines in Asia, couldn’t be expected to know that the stunt wasn’t “authorized,” "The chairman is not an aviator and he was fully aware that the captain was in full command of the flight," an unidentified spokeswoman said. "There was no request or suggestion from anyone in Cathay Pacific for the fly-by to take place. The decision was entirely that of the captain in command." The spokeswoman also denied that Wilkinson’s firing had more to do with the publicity surrounding the stunt, which was featured on YouTube, than company protocol. “The YouTube video only confirmed what was already becoming known. The internal investigation was well underway prior to the video appearing online,” she claimed. However, an unidentified source reportedly told a German magazine that it was felt the incident “makes our airline look like a bunch of cowboys.” Wilkinson was paid three months’ severance and keeps his company pension. He has not been available for comment. His maid reportedly told the newspaper he’s on holiday in Thailand.

On the Fly ...

Substandard parts have been used on airliners because the FAA and airlines lack effective oversight on who’s making and selling the parts, according to a report by the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General...

Plastic pilot certificates will be required in the U.S. by March 31, 2010 according to a final rule issued by the FAA last week. The new certificates are more durable and more secure than the paper variety...

Today is the deadline for comments on ADS-B deployment in the U.S. The actual deployment will, however, take about 20 years, and the main concerns expressed so far are about the potential cost.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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New on AVweb back to top 

Leading Edge #15: VFR Flight Not Recommended -- The Go/No-Go Decision

If the FSS briefer suggests you don't fly VFR, is it illegal to go? Just how unsafe is it if you do? AVweb's Thomas P. Turner has a system for figuring it out.

Click here to read.

What's New for March 2008

This month, AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you online courses, Sport-Pilot training, flight bags and much more.

Click here for the full story.

AVweb Insider Blog: The Bio-Fuel Delusion

Be sure to visit our new blog, AVweb Insider, for personal insights and commentary on the aviation industry from our staff of writers and editors. Today, Aviation Group director Paul Bertorelli wonders aloud if bio-fuels are really going to save G.A. as we know it.

Read more.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Air Flyte, Inc. (KBAF, Westfield, MA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Air Flyte, Inc. at KBAF in Westfield, Massachusetts.

We've heard of some pretty nifty things FBOs do to make their visitors feel at home, but AVweb reader Bob Cipolli painted a unique and inviting picture of this "new FBO located in the brand-new terminal building at Barnes/Westfield." Bob writes:

They have lineman ready to park you as soon as you taxi in and roll out an actual red carpet for every plane on their ramp. They even have cookies for my dog when she comes with me to the airport. First class organization all the way.

Red carpet? Dog cookies?? We have to agree, Bob — that's the very definition of "first class all the way"!

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

Return to Paradise: Caribbean Flying Adventures Resurrects the Cayman Caravan

File Size 11.6 MB / Running Time 12:43

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

If your "bucket list" includes an international trip over water to an exotic destination in your own airplane, then you need to hear this AVweb podcast. The very popular Cayman Caravan was just recently revived by Caribbean Flying Adventures as the "Cayman Islands Fly-In." They just completed their first trip, involving 16 planes ranging from a Cessna 172 to a Diamond TwinStar, and AVweb's Mike Blakeney spoke with Jim Parker, President and Chief Pilot, to see how it went.

Click here to listen. (11.6 MB, 12:43)

Video of the Week: Bumpy Landing at London City Airport

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Maybe we have a soft spot for videos that make us a little nervous, but today's "Video of the Week" selection (courtesy of AVweb reader Peter Snoeckx made us sit up and take notice. There's a happy ending, but this Swiss Air pilot has clearly had better days. In his defense, if you turn up the volume, you can hear the wind howling, and he did, after all, end up on the centerline.

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

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

Exclusive Video: Dassault Falcon 7X Fly-by-Wire Business Jet

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

Dassault has introduced a jet that changes the playing field for business jet manufacturers, operators and pilots. That jet is the $40 million Falcon 7X. In this exclusive video, AVweb video editor Glenn Pew takes us inside the Falcon 7X.

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.

Choose the Flight Explorer Edition Right for You
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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard at Santa Barbara, California. (I wasn't paying attention at the beginning of this call, so I don't know the type of aircraft.)

"Santa Barbara Clearance, N***** at FBO, requesting clearance to —"


"Oh, hell."

Clearance (deadpan and without hesitation):
"I can't send you there ... ."

Jo Duffy
via e-mail

More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Managing Editor
Meredith Saini

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.