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General aviation fatalities decreased 30 percent last year compared to the year before, the NTSB reported on Wednesday, down from 703 to 491. It was the lowest annual total in more than 40 years. "The U.S. aviation
industry has produced an admirable safety record in recent years," said NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker. "However, we must not become complacent. We must continue to take the lessons learned from our
investigations and use them to create even safer skies for all aircraft operators and their passengers." The overall number of GA accidents was up, rising from 1,518 in 2006 to 1,631 in 2007.
Estimated flight hours were down slightly, and the overall accident rate per 100,000 flight hours showed a slight increase.
This year's fatal accident rate of 1.19 per 100,000 hours is the lowest since 1999. The statistics, which are posted online, are
preliminary, the NTSB said.
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The Rocket Racing League, which is made up of modified Velocity
experimental aircraft with a rocket strapped on the back, will debut its first-ever exhibition race at EAA AirVenture in
Oshkosh this summer. Two Rocket Racers will compete, and the pilots will carry in-cockpit cameras to broadcast the action live on multiple large projection screens. "EAA has followed the
development of the Rocket Racing League concept with great interest," said EAA President Tom Poberezny. "We are excited about the opportunity to develop a whole new audience of aviation enthusiasts,
while at the same time promoting aviation innovation." The races will be held Friday and Saturday, Aug. 1 and 2.
Initial test flights for the Rocket Racers will take place in May at Mojave, Calif. Pending FAA approval following those flights, the AirVenture exhibition races would be the first of four
exhibitions this year. Races are scheduled for the Reno National Championship Air Races in September; at the X Prize Cup in Las Cruces, N.M., at a date to be determined; and at Aviation Nation, Nellis
AFB, in Las Vegas, Nov. 8-9. The Rocket Racing League also announced last week that it has acquired Velocity Aircraft and will produce a consistent airframe for all competing racers. Also, Armadillo
Aerospace will manufacture liquid oxygen engines for the league.
A pilot and his family were in their Cessna Stationair on Tuesday, preparing to take off from a dirt runway in Baja California,
when they were forced at gunpoint to abandon the airplane, Bob Collins, president of the Aircraft Crime Prevention Institute, told AVweb. "Three men
jumped the fence, then three others in a Nissan Sentra pulled onto the runway, blocking it," Collins said. "One of them had a gun, and they broke a window in the airplane and forced the family out.
They pushed the Sentra off to the side and torched it, then all six of them climbed into the airplane. There was baggage in there too, and it barely made it into the air," Collins said. ACPI had
issued an alert recently that aircraft thefts are rising in the border region. "Mexican officials are seizing aircraft, so smugglers are out looking for new ones," he said.
They prefer U.S. airplanes, he added, because they tend to be better-maintained and newer than local aircraft. The pilot and his family were not hurt, Collins said. The Mulege Airstrip is a general
aviation dirt airstrip that is located two miles northeast of Mulege, near the Hotel Serenidad in the northern part of Baja California Sur.
The World of Flight Gathers at EAA AirVenture EAA AirVenture is The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration. Whatever your favorite aircraft, you'll find it along the flight line in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Plus nearly 1,000
forums, workshops, and seminars; 750+ exhibitors; daily air shows; evening programs; and more add up to the event of a lifetime!
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As details of the Delta and Northwest "merger" emerge, the number of affected parties continues to grow and it's looking like some key people weren't consulted--like Northwest's pilots. Northwest's
pilot's union claims the deal was structured around a new fat contract for Delta pilots and Northwest pilots will suffer, resulting in class warfare on the flight decks. "The labor discord that will
result from the current structure of this merger is likely to overwhelm the potential economic positives. We will not tolerate being a B-scale airline due to an unfair contract," union president Dave
Stevens said. Then there's the question of whether Minneapolis-St. Paul, Northwest's current home, will continue to be a major hub of the "world's largest airline." Regardless of the customer service
angle, it's already been decided that head office of the new airline will be in Atlanta and the current CEO of Northwest, Doug Steenland wasn't exactly direct in his comments on the disposition of his
MSP headquarters staff. "We want to be in a position to make commitments on those topics, and we have indicated to the elected officials here that as the transition plans develops, and we can be more
specific, we'd like to sit down and have that conversation," he said.
Another interesting point is the market's view of the merger proposal. Stock in both airlines dropped on the news. "Wall Street was looking for more insight in terms of how to integrate these
disparate pilot unions onto a single labor agreement," airline analyst Brian Nelson told Minnesota Public
Radio. "I don't think Delta came out and said it would be aggressive enough with their capacity reduction to really help this industry move forward. And, of course, there's going to be $1 billion
in integration costs." Federal regulators have yet to chime in, too.
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Embraer rolled out the first Phenom 300 light jet and ground testing will begin shortly in advance of its first flight. Work has already begun on the second Phenom 300. "We are thrilled to see the
Phenom 300 become a reality," said Luís Carlos Affonso, Embraer Executive Vice President, Executive Jets. "The Phenom 300... will set a new standard for the light jet category." The 300 was
rolled out 10 months after the smaller Phenom 100 was completed.
The first Phenom 300 was started about a year ago and 400 engineers have been working on the project. No date has been finalized for the first flight.
The Pilatus PC-12, a well-respected workhorse, has been given a 21st century makeover. The company displayed an example of its next generation model that was certified days before Sun 'n Fun 2008
opened in Lakeland, Fla. The biggest change is installation of a Honewell Primus Apex glass panel, a variation of the Honeywell system found in large business jets and is the base system for
Gulfstream's Planeview. Pilatus spokesman Mike Haenggi said the version used in the PC-12NG is optimized for single pilot operation. The latest PC-12 also gets more power.
The big single is powered by a Pratt and Whitney PT6A-67P which develops 1,200 hp. Haenggi said the new engine incorporates metallurgical improvements that allow higher operating temperatures and
that translates to a 10-knot increase in cruise speed to 280. Pilatus also retained BMW to design the interior and the result is a modern feel that matches the technology up front.
Two Army soldiers were inside an SUV that was destroyed when an F-16 fired upon it at a training range in Utah last week. The
two were able to escape with minor injuries. It was unclear whether the vehicle was hit by the jet's 20-mm cannon fire or if it crashed after the soldiers jumped out, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The soldiers were taking part in a night training exercise at the Utah Test and Training Range. Live air-to-ground
exercises are often practiced at the range, the Tribune said, and can involve firing on abandoned vehicles.
It was not clear if the Army soldiers were in an area where they were not supposed to be, or if the jet pilot fired on the wrong target. Both soldiers were treated and have reported back to
Scientists from the University of Dayton Research Institute have manipulated the process of shell and pearl formation in oysters
to demonstrate a method for depositing pearl-like coatings onto various metal surfaces, such as an aircraft, according to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, which is funding the study. The findings could lead to the development of new lightweight, durable coatings that would protect aircraft
from impact and corrosion, the USAF said. The Air Force currently uses protective ceramic coatings on aircraft for various purposes, but officials said this new nonhazardous process could create
ceramics at room temperature and pressure. Existing methods require a high-temperature, high-pressure environment.
Doug Hansen, a University of Dayton Research Institute senior research scientist, maintains live oysters in the lab and uses them to demonstrate ceramic deposition inside and outside of the
organism. The researchers insert small pieces of metal into the oysters, which triggers the formation of pearl. They also take blood cells out of the oysters, which when placed on metal behave as if
they are growing a shell on the surface.
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Speaking of the AVweb Insider, our blog was hopping last week during Sun 'n Fun. Look for on-site reports from staffers and a nifty behind-the-scenes photo of Patty Wagstaff doing her
signature inverted ribbon cut while wired up with AVweb video equipment.
Last time out (the week before Sun 'n Fun), we asked how many air shows and/or fly-ins our readers have pencilled in on their calendars for 2008.
The most popular answer (by far) was one or two with a surprising 18% of those who responded saying they would attend none (!) and a scant 2% telling us they
planned to attend more than 10.
Sounds like we can look forward to seeing quite a few of you at AirVenture in Oshkosh this summer!
To see how the other three potential answers (and the ever-popular none of the above and all of the above) ranked, click here. (You may be asked to register and answer if you haven't already participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
At last week's Sun 'n Fun show, the hot new announcements in avionics were about so-called synthethic vision. Garmin announced its own new system, and Diamond is already offering it
in the DA40 Star.
The Pilot/Controller Glossary contains terms used on both sides of the NAS fence. Too often, pilots don't understand controller phrases, and controllers don't know the pilot stuff. You'll know it
all by acing this quiz.
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AVweb reader Konstantin Blank recommended the FBO, citing the unique training experience:
Amelia Reid Aviation is a rare place where you get excellent flight instruction while connecting with the roots of aviation. While they instruct for all airplane ratings, the spcialty is in tailwheel
aircraft ... a place where hangar flying is a both a pleasure and valuable (non-loggable) flight experience. I recommend everyone get a tailwheel transition training here as it will be fun and make
you a better pilot.
While tailwheel training isn't on our list for this year, we'll definitely spread the word. (And now we know a good FBO in San Jose to stop in on during our travels.)
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 ***
As we were packing up for Sun 'n Fun, we asked AVweb readers to keep submitting pictures, promising that we'd dive back in as soon as we
returned. You guys certainly lived up to your end of the bargain, uploading nearly 150 photos over the past two weeks. Now that we're back in front of our submission pile, it's time for us to pull
our weight and start dishing out pics. So let's go!
That's the glow of three balloons preparing for take-off during the Manitowoc (Wis.) "Thunder on the Lake Shore" air show, courtesy of Madison's Geoff Sobering.
Geoff makes a good case for subtle photo manipulations here, detailing in his comments how difficult it was to balance the glow of those burners and the darkness of those shadows under
Moonshine's nose. The result, however, is pretty spectacular.
Ben Woodruff of Salina, Kansas used the same strategy, relying on nature to produce some incredible colors in the wake of a thunderstorm. (Ben
tells us the photo op came "during Kansas State University's mountain flying course," so we imagine there was plenty of opportunity to snap pics while the storm passed over.)
Sparky Barnes Sargent of Washington, Oklahoma flies us out this week. Supplying the fireworks is Manfred Radius in his Salto.
Hey, wait! Is that what we miss out on during the night shows at Sun 'n Fun? Suddenly editing video and writing stories seems like a little more work ... .
More Reader-Submitted Photos!
With over a hundred in the box this week, we've just gotta show you more than five. Click on over to AVweb's home page and check out two dozen of our
favorites from this week's mailbag.
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:
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