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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
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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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I read with great interest and dismay Mr. Bertorelli's opinion piece (AVwebinsider, Apr. 1) about the recent near-midair-collision with an aircraft involved with an F-16 in the
Gladden MOA (Podcast, Mar. 31). I also read the follow-up with retired Lt. Col. Fred Clifton and listened to his interview (Podcast, Apr. 4). I preface my comments with the fact that the military has not responded officially. And it doesn't look like the Pilatus pilot experienced
an actual intercept in a Homeland Defense operation. So my conclusions are my own based on personal experience, assuming it was an U.S. Air Force (USAF) jet. And it's my opinion that some of the
USAF's leadership fosters attitudes in their aircrews that MOAs are their exclusive domain (obviously supported by some of your readers). The AVweb audio portion also informs us that there were two
incidents with apparently the same F-16.
I have taken excerpts from Mr. Bertorelli's opinion piece and commented to each in turn below. Mr. Bertorelli cites a friend's opinion about one fighter pilot's severely misguided attitude (my
words) about playing in sandboxes. Please inform your buddy that MOAs are not sandboxes where children play. Or does his opinion belie a greater attitude problem within the USAF pilot community? One
thing's for sure: I do know that most military pilots don't think of themselves as Tom Cruise.
My credentials? I was a 20-year Air Force pilot, starting out as a FAIP (First Assignment Instructor Pilot) in the T-38 at Reese AFB. I then moved to the C-130 (my second choice) and Beech King Air
(by choice) before finishing up as a MAJCOM Flight Safety Officer (PACAF) and a Numbered Air Force (11 AF) military airspace manager. I helped manage the Alaskan military airspace & range complex for
6-1/2 years until 2005. I know a thing or two about MOAs, the military and FAA rules of engagement. At least I hope this is still the case -- that pilots are being taught to respect and show
stewardship of the airspace and respect all its participants.
At the end of this piece, I have included excerpts from the USAF's Flying Operations Instruction, AFI 11-202 Vol 3. This document, in addition to providing military-specific guidance, distills
aviation CFR's into USAF pilot speak. You will see that nothing in the applicable text from the instruction allows USAF pilots to violate a CFR unless already waived by the FAA or a MAJCOM commander
has decided that it is in defense of our country. I do not know if this is the most current instruction, but I can tell you these words have not changed much in over 24 years. (For you older pilots,
this guidance used to be AF Regulation 60-16.)
Mr. Bertorelli wrote,
"Military aircraft operating inside MOAs are exempt from the FARs prohibiting the rest of us from performing aerobatic flight in proximity to federal airways and, surprise, they tend to
maneuver aggressively in all dimensions."
Nothing in AFI 11-202 Vol. 3, or in CFR 14 Part
91.303, allows pilots to perform acrobatics near a federal airway. In fact MOAs are specifically designed to deconflict with federal airways. So as long as the F-16 remained in the MOA, there
could have been no conflict with any IFR aircraft. I'm not sure what his point is anyway, since this incident was with a VFR aircraft. In fact the only two flight rules that AF pilots are allowed to
break in an MOA are the speed restriction below 10,000 feet and turning off exterior lighting for Lights Out Training (only in designated MOAs with a proper NOTAM in advance). But the FAA has
addressed these operations over the years and has properly mitigated any safety impact in the MOA charting process described in FAA Order 7400.2.
"Even if you operate near the edge of a MOA, you're at risk. 'Spill outs' of high-speed military traffic beyond the confines of a MOA aren't uncommon and what's your TCAS going to do
with a target descending vertically through your 12 o'clock at 10,000 FPM? The easy way not to have to find out is to avoid active MOAs in the first place -- by a wide margin."
Avoiding a MOA is certainly an option. And today TCAS complicates this issue with VFR aircraft. But the best course of action isn't to run away, thereby agreeing that it's the military's airspace,
allowing it to be treated as a Restricted Area. The action should be to educate yourself by checking out the MOA schedule and status while flight planning, announcing yourself on the radio, and
requesting ATC services. The FAA mitigates the VFR operations issue in their rules for establishing MOAs by providing for an equivalent level of safety. In the case of Alaska, that equivalent level
applied to the Interior MOAs near Fairbanks includes the Special Use Airspace Information Service (SUAIS), hailed by General Aviation as a success in improving all aviators' situational awareness. The
MOAs are indeed so large that it is impractical to fly around them in some cases. Google it for more information. It's a good thing.
"Or, if you happen to get jumped by an F-16, you could always substitute bravado for utter lack of defensive panache. You've still got your radio and, since F-16s have VHF, key up and
say something like, 'Hey buddy, if I had 500 more knots, another bag of gas, hard points, a couple of Sidewinders and pulse-Doppler radar, I'd teach you a lesson.' "
As I would do face-to-face with the clown who just did this to me. I'm afraid it would be ugly. A fellow instructor showed incredibly poor flight discipline one day with me as his wingman. In the
debrief, I informed him that I wouldn't fly against or with him any longer. Our flight commander supported this. A year after I departed, he killed a trainee in a mishap attributed to yet another
display of poor discipline. They call 'em "bad apples" for a reason.
"No one could reasonably argue that it's a good idea for military aircraft to aggressively intercept civil airplanes pour le sport, but on the other hand, that's what fighter pilots do
and -- in an MOA -- you are on their turf. If part of your safety matrix depends on military pilots following guidelines not to do this sort of thing or if you expect commanding officers to smack the
knuckles of those who do, good luck. You're gonna need it. All others should follow Mr. Aykroyd's advice."
This is what military pilots do? It's their turf? Intercept unsuspecting, non-participating aircraft at close range? Hardly! We shouldn't condone this poor behavior and lack of judgment. I realize the
investigation isn't complete and my conclusion may sound judgmental. Let's just see what comes of the investigation and what the commanders do with this pilot. If their investigation finds him guilty
of inappropriate use of the aircraft, they would be smart to park his/her rear-end down for a month or two, assigning him the squadron's slow-leak tasks. If this is all that's done, the pilot will be
lucky. You may see legal issues arise.
Nothing in the CFRs allows for wanton disregard for remaining clear of other aircraft. The pilot elected to fly formation on an aircraft without prior arrangement (see 14 CFR 91.111 (b)), and that, to
me, is a near mid-air collision. Doing it knowingly is a breach of in-flight discipline. What if the civilian had panicked and over-G'd his own aircraft in an attempt to get away? When I was an
instructor, Air Training Command's guidance was clear: If we saw a VFR aircraft, we would remain "well clear." The VFR pilot had no idea what we were doing and we had no idea what he would do if we
came near. If the F-16 pilot's commander condones the act and lets this go, it will increase the risk of future mishaps. Military pilots behave like their commanders. Weak leaders cause trouble. Look
at what happened with the Fairchild AFB B-52 in 1994. That guy killed three comrades along with
himself. And it's alleged the senior wing leadership knew they had a discipline problem, but took little if any action to stop it.
Lt. Col. Clifton's views are mostly reasonable and passionate, as they should be. But both his views about the shadowing incident and equal-airspace-access are flawed. The Colonel admitted that even
the fighters are VFR. Who has the right of way? Actually, I believe the FARs address this as well (91.115(d)). I agree with the need
to train; I do not agree with his assertion that the fighters somehow have priority or a greater need for the airspace. In the FAA's eyes, the two VFR aircraft have equal access.
And to answer Lt. Col. Clifton's questions, "Was it aggressive?" Yes, I agree it was aggressive. But why? Could it be intimidation? It was certainly stupid. And he asked, "Was it hazardous?" The
answer is, actually, yes. What part of 14 CFR 91.111 don't you understand? This is essentially a violation of 14 CFR 91.13 as well! So, the
USAF has bought itself some wonderful negative publicity. But publicity bought at what expense? I'm all for the military using as much readiness-training airspace as it demonstrates it needs. But I'm
afraid that stunts like this increase the likelihood mishaps and of losing more airspace than the USAF might gain. Good job, boys!
As good citizens, we all should cheer for our military and encourage their realistic training to maximum extent possible. Even though my ears are trashed, I still love the sound. They are, in fact,
training to defend us. We (the public) give the military incredible responsibility flying very expensive machines. That comes with mature behavior as a necessary return obligation. Anything less is
unacceptable. This was always taught by my commanders. Ultimately, they reminded us that we serve the American people. The author's attitude perpetuates an apparent discipline problem and
reveals that he is participating in the military's larceny by asserting that MOAs are the military's exclusive domain, to be treated as Restricted Areas with other players remaining clear.
The days of waving the flag to win arguments over airspace are over. Setting off a TCAS inadvertently is one thing. But joining up on a non-participant's wing is quite another. The pilot may not have
been acting with any ill will. The fighter pilot was certainly acting with extremely poor judgment. People get killed that way, Mr. Bertorelli.
I would not want to be this pilot right now. He should be in trouble. And for the record, the definition of a MOA is "Military Operations Area" not "military operating area." You probably got your
information from the USAF, though, and that's unfortunate. Even Luke AFB's Midair Collision Avoidance Web site
can't get it right! If you don't know the title of your training airspace, what's that show? It shows you don't respect it and take it for granted. For those of you who still think the military has
priority VFR in a MOA, you need to read up on the FAA Orders establishing and using this airspace. You are severely misguided.
AFI 11-202 Vol 3, 5 April 2006 (excerpt)
1.2.1. The PIC will ensure compliance with the following:
18.104.22.168. This AFI and MAJCOM guidance.
22.214.171.124. MDS-specific instructions and supplements.
126.96.36.199. The FARs when operating within the United States including the airspace overlying the waters out to 12 miles from the US coast, unless the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has excluded
188.8.131.52. ICAO SARPs in international airspace over the high seas, military mission permitting.
184.108.40.206. The specific rules of each individual nation as published in Flight Information Publications (FLIP) planning documents and the Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG). Theater commanders must ensure
the contents of FLIP accurately indicate the rules of each nation within their area of responsibility that differ from this instruction.
220.127.116.11. ICAO SARPS when operating in a nation whose rules are not published.
18.104.22.168. Procedures and special notices in FLIP, Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs), aircraft technical orders, Air Force directives, MAJCOM directives, and Air Traffic Control (ATC) instructions.
1.3.4. FAR Exemptions and Authorizations. MAJCOMs will obtain FAA exemptions or authorizations only through HQ AFFSA.
22.214.171.124. MAJCOMs will follow the procedures outlined in paragraph 1.3.3.
126.96.36.199. MAJCOM commanders may, for operations subject to the FARs only, unilaterally authorize deviation from air traffic rules without a waiver from HQ AFFSA or an exemption from the FAA, if it
considers the deviation "essential to the defense of the United States" and there is no time to obtain approval from HQ AFFSA and the FAA. The MAJCOM will notify HQ AFFSA and the FAA (through HQ
AFFSA) of its military intentions prior to deviating from the flight rules. The notice should be given at the earliest time practicable.
188.8.131.52. Any operations of Remotely Operated Aircraft (ROA) outside of Special Use Airspace (SUA) require an FAA Certificate of Operations (COA).
1.3.5. An ATC clearance is not authority to deviate from this instruction.
More opinion pieces from guests and AVweb staffers can be found on the ATIS index.
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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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.
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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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The AVwebFlash team is:
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