AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 23b

June 5, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Zulu Time ... From Lightspeed
The new Zulu headset looks different because it is different. Made with magnesium, stainless steel, and four types of composite plastics, it's extremely durable and yet weighs just over 13 ounces. Rather than concentrating purely on cutting decibels, Lightspeed engineers looked at how pilots perceive noise at different frequencies. You get broader noise attenuation over the entire audible range. Zulu has more total noise cancellation than any headset on the market. Click here for a dealer near you.
Let the Speculation Begin! back to top 

A Supersonic Cessna?

HalogenGuides Jets, which calls itself the "Insider's Guide to Private Aviation," is reporting that Cessna is working on development of a supersonic business jet. Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver declined comment. "We generally don’t discuss what we may or may not be doing in the world of advanced design," he said. However, the Web site, which also offers insight on real estate and travel, seems pretty sure that a Cessna SSBJ is on the horizon. In an analysis of the current SSBJ market, the Web site says "An intriguing third player has emerged with the news that business jet stalwarts, Cessna, has entered the ring with a design of its own. Little is known about Cessna's plans at the moment, but the fact that such a reputable private aviation brand is developing a supersonic jet ought to lend some credence to the movement."

The balance of the article deals with Aerion's much-publicized order book for 40 of its $80 million offering and the less well-known but potentially more-developed Quiet Supersonic Transport under development at Lockheed's Skunkworks. The focus of much of the research is on softening the sonic boom but there are inevitable questions about fuel burn and environmental impact. The article says that time savings for the busiest of business people may drive some sales but practicality is unlikely to be the motive for many buying an SSBJ. "For the billionaire boys club, meanwhile, a supersonic private jet will likely be irresistible as the ultimate toy," it opines.

Tulsa TowBots Available at Aircraft Spruce
The iTowBot's patented technology eliminates lifting, positioning, electrical cords, fueling or hard starting of traditional towing machinery. The iTowBot rotates the aircraft inside of its own wingspan. With its hybrid zero-turn capability and fully-articulating, self-locking carriage, turn limits of the aircraft nose wheel cannot be exceeded. The powerful 24V DC motors start and stop smoothly, delivering power needed to put your aircraft asset on the ramp or back in the hangar. Call Aircraft Spruce at 1 (877) 4-SPRUCE or visit online.
Living (and Doing Business) in Interesting Times back to top 

EAA And AERO Friedrichshafen Announce Strategic Relationship

AERO Friedrichshafen, a general aviation show in Germany, has been growing in recent years -- as shown by its recent decision to switch from an every-other-year schedule to an annual event -- and this week, AERO organizers announced a new strategic relationship with EAA. "We're convinced that this will lead to more aviation enthusiasm and additional value for our common customers on both sides of the pond," said AERO Friedrichshafen project manager Thomas Grunewald. Both organizations aim to expand their global reach, he said. "We've seen that their show and our AirVenture show attract the same kindred spirits," EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski told AVweb on Wednesday. "This is a way for us to reach out to the general aviation community in Europe, and also for AERO Friedrichshafen to add more visibility at our events."

AirVenture at Oshkosh is one of the world's premier aviation events, and AERO Friedrichshafen is the largest and most established general aviation show in Europe. "We look forward to developing our relationship with AERO. The special opportunities that AERO presents for EAA members will be a great benefit," said Tom Poberezny, president & CEO of EAA.

Report: Demand Turns Jet Market Upside-Down

Used jets are selling for higher prices than new jets in today's hot marketplace, says a report this week in The Wall Street Journal. For example, a Gulfstream G450 from the factory sells for about $40 million, but used ones are selling for $44 million and up. "That's because you can fly it next month, instead of the first quarter of 2013," Matthew Hartnett, a Gulfstream sales executive, told the Journal. The topsy-turvy market is also attracting speculators who will buy up delivery slots then sell them at a profit a year or two later. "If you need a plane in six months you have to go and buy a position from someone," Paolo Carmassi, president for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India for Honeywell Aerospace, told the Journal. "And there are people who are making a business out of selling their positions."

That practice makes manufacturers nervous -- if the market takes a downturn and demand dries up, they could be left with a surplus of airplanes and no buyers.

Piper Matrix — Piper Compelling
Click here for more information on the new Matrix, Piper's next generation of cabin-class sophistication. Compellingly priced at $757,000.
Watching Those Fuel Gauges back to top 

Lycoming Announces Auto-Gas Approval Program

Recognizing global concerns about the immediate and long-term availability of aviation-grade 100LL fuel, Lycoming Engines announced this week that it is working to get approval for the use of unleaded automotive gasoline for its standard-compression-ratio O-360 and IO-360 product lines. Ian Walsh, general manager for Lycoming Engines, told AVweb the approval will not require any modification to the engines, the fuel will not need any additives or special treatment, and there will be no degradation in engine performance. "It's essentially a paperwork drill, to make this happen," he said. He expects to have approval from the FAA by this fall, but owners cannot implement the change until the airplane also gets certified. That is up to the manufacturers, Walsh said, and he could not estimate how long that would take, but said it is also essentially a paperwork issue. The engines will require a specific type of unleaded 93 AKI automotive gas, designated as Euro Norm EN228 (in Europe) or ASTM D4814 (in the U.S.). This fuel is not difficult to find, Walsh said, but users must verify that they are getting that particular type -- not just any unleaded auto gas will do.

The unleaded automotive gas is generally cheaper than avgas and provides an alternative in areas where avgas is scarce. Also, the continuing use of leaded avgas provokes environmental concerns. The popular O-360 and IO-360 engines are found on many GA aircraft, including Cessnas, Mooneys, Diamonds, and more.

Diamond Offers New Buyers Free Fuel For A Year

Economic jitters and rising fuel costs have had an impact on piston aircraft sales, and this week Diamond Aircraft came up with a way to try to fight back -- the company is offering a year's worth of free fuel, plus free maintenance, insurance, and training for buyers of a new DA40 XLS. "We are very excited about this offer," said Fred Ahles, president of Premier Aircraft Sales, the Diamond distributor in Florida. "The DA40 XLS has always been a very economical plane to operate -- typically costing less than $1,000 per month -- and with this special offer, there are few costs beyond the monthly payments for the entire first year of ownership." The company says it hopes the offer will appeal to "the fiscally responsible left-brain pilot."

The offer is not without limits -- the free maintenance includes all scheduled maintenance for one year or 250 hours, whichever comes first – a $2,750 value; insurance up to $3,500; fuel for 100 hours of flying at $5 per gallon, or $5,000; and a $2,000 training credit at any Diamond Flight Center, for transition training or toward any rating. The offer expires July 31, and is limited to inventory on hand at Diamond distributors. And Diamond is not the only manufacturer offering enticements to buyers. Tuesday, US Aviation Group, in Denton, Texas, said it will supply free Sport Pilot instruction for anyone who buys a new light sport aircraft from its inventory. They have 10 airplanes in their showroom to choose from. US Aviation sells REMOS, Breezer, Tecnam Sierra and Bravo, and Skylark LSAs.

NEW Real Pilot Story:
Toddler Overboard ... Power Loss on Takeoff ... Mountain Crash ... Vacuum Failure in IMC

Each Real Pilot Story on the AOPA Air Safety Foundation web site is a true account of a good flight gone bad. These multimedia presentations allow you to watch, listen, and learn as pilots tell their harrowing tales of survival. The quick thinking and skillful techniques shown in the ASF Real Pilot Stories can help make better pilots of us all. Listen now.
Flying for Others back to top 

Toddler Dies In Angel Flight Crash In Iowa

Angel Flight Central, based in Kansas City, Mo., has flown over 10,000 charitable missions to help people in need of medical care. But on Tuesday, one of those missions ended tragically when a two-year-old girl was killed. The child had traveled with her mother from their home in Georgia to Iowa City for treatment of the child's clubfoot. About 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the TBM 850 charity flight took off from Iowa City Airport to return home. Witnesses said the airplane "turned sideways" shortly after takeoff and quickly descended, skimmed across a highway, hit a ditch, skidded about 100 yards, hit a light post that sheared off a wing, and came to rest in a parking lot. The weather was reportedly overcast and raining, with winds gusting up to 36 mph. The mother and the pilot were injured in the crash.

The pilot is from Bloomington, Ill. Crystal Gollnick, executive director of Angel Flight Central, told The Gazette that the pilot has flown 67 missions for the group. "He is very experienced, very generous," Gollnick said. She added that she could not recall another time when an Angel Flight patient was injured in an accident. Rol Murrow, of the Air Care Alliance, told AVweb on Wednesday that "the NTSB doesn't separate out public benefit flights [from other statistics]." He said he could recall a few accidents over the years, and estimated that the accident rate for charity flights is about the same as the overall GA rate. The nationwide Angel Flight Network runs about 20,000 missions a year in the United States.

Got A Plane That Won't Fly? Build-A-Plane Kids Need It

It would seem reasonable that with some pilots parking their airplanes due to high fuel costs, Build A Plane would see an influx of donations for their program, which collects unwanted aircraft and gives them to schools (and gives the donor a tax deduction). But in fact, the nonprofit group is facing a critical shortage of aircraft donations, according to Lyn Freeman, founder of the organization -- almost 200 schools are on a waiting list. "When schools have to wait that long to receive an airplane, sometimes they move on to a different area of interest, away from aviation," Freeman said this week. "We can't afford to have that happen, so we really, really need more aircraft donations." Build A Plane has helped kids at over 70 schools learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics by building real airplanes.

"It's amazing to see what happens when a Build A Plane aircraft shows up at a high school," says Katrina Bradshaw, the program's executive director. "Kids who have not even started to think about what they want to do when they grow up suddenly see a real airplane right in their classroom. The next thing you know, kids are learning about the technology and math and engineering and the science of aviation, and then we see kids enroll in flying lessons, aviation technician programs and all kinds of things. It's really very exciting!" To donate an aircraft to Build A Plane or to learn more about its projects, go to BuildAPlane.org.

Precise/Cirrus Fixed Oxygen Is Now Available as an SR22 Retrofit
Because every SR22 deserves the best, we have acquired STCs for the G2 and G3 Models. The Precise Flight Certified Fixed Oxygen System, unique in its clean and simple integration into the aircraft, is making its way "standard" on the industry's leading airframes. Click here to find out more about the Precise Fixed Oxygen System.
Space Exploration, Past and Present back to top 

Changes At Scaled Composites

Scaled Composites, based in Mojave, Calif., announced on Wednesday that Douglas Shane has been appointed president and will assume responsibility for day-to-day operations of the company. Company founder Burt Rutan is named chief technology officer and chairman emeritus. "I suggested this change to our organizational structure because I want to focus on developing our talented, innovative team and ensuring we continue to provide our customers the creative technical approaches that only Scaled offers," said Rutan. "I am successfully recovering from about eight months of significant heart health challenges, and with this move look forward to many more years of fun here at Scaled." Doug Shane was previously vice president.

He joined Scaled as a founding member in 1982 and since 1989 has been responsible for business development, contracts and proposals, as well as the company's flight-test operations.

New Space Museum Opens In Oregon

The Evergreen Aviation Museum, known as the home of Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose flying boat and a rare SR-71 Blackbird, will open a new space facility this Friday. The new museum will feature Titan missiles, a replica Lunar Module and Lunar Rover, and the Russian Photon Space Capsule. The new 120,000-square-foot building is a twin to the original museum. Interactive exhibits and simulators will be used to tell the story of spaceflight. The museum also plans to host a series of educational programs and space camps, and will offer programs for local high schoolers. The museum is located about 20 miles southwest of Portland, Ore., at the McMinnville Airport.

A dedication event on Friday morning will feature a visit from astronauts Gen. Joe Engle and Gen. Tom Stafford, and Titan II expert Chuck Rash.

CAV Aerospace Offers Summer Savings for TKS Ice Protection
Schedule summer installation of CAV Aerospace TKS ice protection today for $1,000 or more in savings for: Cessna 182, Piper Saratoga, Mooney 252, Encore, TLS/Bravo, Ovation, Eagle, and Acclaim aircraft. For peace of mind, call (888) 865-5511, contact TKS sales by e-mail, or go to WeepingWings.com.
News Briefs back to top 

AOPA Warns Pilots Of Restricted Airspace Near Saturday's Fly-In

Click to enlarge
Pilots planning to attend AOPA's Fly-In and Open House in Frederick, Md., this Saturday should be aware that the FAA plans to expand a nearby P-40 prohibited area during the fly-in time frame. The area will grow from a 3-nm radius to 5 nm. Pilots flying in the ring from 5 nm to 10 nm must be on an active IFR or VFR flight plan, maintain positive radio contact with ATC, and use an ATC-assigned discrete transponder code. Pilots who violate the airspace can expect to be intercepted by the U.S. Air Force and questioned by the U.S. Secret Service, and can expect enforcement action by the FAA, AOPA says. "By all means, come to Fly-In," said AOPA President Phil Boyer, "but be very thorough in your pre-flight planning. Our goal is zero airspace incursions in spite of the challenges thrown our way."

All pilots flying into or departing from Frederick Municipal Airport during the P-40 expansion (3 p.m. EDT, Friday, June 6 until 1 p.m. EDT, Sunday, June 8) should monitor the Guard frequency, 121.5 MHz. And as always, check Notams before each and every flight. "AOPA is already seeking ways to alleviate the issue," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "We are speaking directly with the FAA and security agencies to make sure they understand the potential trap they've created for Fly-In visitors." AOPA is also using every communication avenue available to make pilots aware of the temporary flight restriction, including their Web site, e-mail alerts, alerts to every FBO and flight school in the region, and announcements on automated weather broadcasts.

In addition, the Civil Air Patrol has asked squadrons east of the Mississippi River to station members at airports on Saturday morning and ask pilots if they are headed to the Washington, D.C., area, and ensure they are aware of the expanded P-40 area. The FAA will operate a temporary air traffic control tower at Frederick Municipal Airport on Saturday. Arrival and departure procedures developed in conjunction with the FAA are available online. AOPA has also developed a graphic to show the correct arrival traffic flow to avoid the prohibited area. And finally, to be prepared in case a pilot accidentally violates the airspace restriction and picks up a fighter escort, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has developed an intercept procedures card. "Early indications are that we're going to have great weather this Saturday, so by all means, come," said Boyer. "Just make sure you're fully aware of the procedures and the restrictions. Let's show the FAA and the security folks just how conscientious pilots really are."

Click here for the FAA Notam.

On the Fly ...

The FAA is developing new trans-Atlantic routes that would reduce fuel burn...

Forbes examines the aviation world in a special report that mainly looks at airlines but also some GA and business aviation issues...

Cessna's Citation XLS+ bizjet now FAA-certified...

The NTSB wants the FAA to do a better job of ensuring that airport diagrams are accurate, to prevent taxi accidents.

A to Z — Aeromedix.com Has It All — One Stop Shopping!
Safety, survival, travel, medical gear — it's all at Aeromedix.com. Don't wait till you have an emergency to have the right gear onboard. Oxygen systems, medical kits, ReliefBands for motion sickness, CO detectors, fire extinguishers, smoke hoods, all types of survival gear, PLBs, portable urinals, hearing protection, leather jackets — whew! The list goes on. Click here for a complete catalog, and don't leave home without the essentials from Aeromedix.com.
New on AVweb back to top 

The Savvy Aviator #58: Why Mechanics Make Mistakes

"To err is human ..." and when aircraft mechanics make mistakes, bad things can happen.

Click here for the full story.

During the century since the Wright Brothers first flew, the predominant perpetrator in aircraft accidents has shifted dramatically from machine to human. Today, human error is responsible for 90 percent of aircraft accidents and incidents. It's not that people have become more careless, forgetful, inattentive or reckless. It's that aircraft and aircraft components have become much more reliable. As component failures become fewer and fewer, human failures represent an ever-increasing percentage.

Most of the efforts of the aviation research community have focused on errors committed by pilots. This is appropriate, since about 75 percent of serious aviation accidents are due to pilot error. However, there have been a significant number of serious, even fatal, accidents caused primarily by maintenance errors. While there has been increased focus on maintenance errors by the airlines, particularly in the wake of the Aloha and ValuJet crashes, not nearly enough attention has been given to maintenance errors in General Aviation (GA).

Kinds of Maintenance Errors

Less-than-adequate maintenance can be divided into two broad classes:

  • Introduction of a problem that was not there before the maintenance began; and
  • Failure to detect a pre-existing problem during maintenance inspections.

Errors of omission seem to be the most prevalent kind of maintenance errors. An analysis of 122 maintenance errors detected by a major airline over a three-year period revealed the following breakdown:

  • Omissions: 56 percent
  • Incorrect installation: 30 percent
  • Wrong parts installed: 8 percent
  • Other errors: 6 percent

When the 56 percent of errors attributed to omissions was further examined, the breakdown was:

  • Fasteners left undone or incomplete: 22 percent
  • Items left locked or pins not removed: 13 percent
  • Filter/breather caps loose or missing: 11 percent
  • Items left loose or disconnected: 10 percent
  • Spacers, washers, etc., missing: 10 percent
  • Tools, spare fasteners, etc., not removed: 10 percent
  • Lack of lubrication: 7 percent
  • Access panels left off: 3 percent
  • Miscellaneous: 11 percent

The Reassembly Problem

Clearly, most maintenance errors occur not when taking something apart, but rather when putting that something back together. There's a good reason for this. Consider a bolt (figure below) onto which eight nuts have been assembled, each one labeled with a unique letter A through H.

There is only one way to take this assembly apart, but more than 40,000 ways to put it back together -- all but one of them wrong.

Assume that the mechanic's task is to disassemble the nuts from the bolt, clean them, and then reassemble them in the original order. There is really only one way to take this assembly apart, but there are 40,320 different ways in which it could be put back together -- and 40,319 of them are wrong!

This simplistic example illustrates the fact that the task of disassembly usually constrains the mechanic to one particular sequence, with each succeeding step being prompted by the last. The mechanic doesn't require much guidance, because the disassembly procedure is usually obvious. In contrast, correct reassembly usually requires knowledge -- either in the mechanic's memory or in written form.

Human memory being as imperfect as it is, reassembly based on memory is error-prone. Reassembly based on written guidance (such as a checklist or service-manual instructions) is far more reliable, but people doing a hands-on job tend to be reluctant to consult written instructions. (Watch your A&P work on your airplane, and note how rarely he consults the service manual or any other form of written guidance.) Reassembly-by-memory is probably adequate for a task that the mechanic does every day. Most maintenance tasks aren't like this, however, and we all know how easily we can forget the details of a task after even a short period of time.

To make matters worse, a wrongly-assembled component is not always obvious on later inspection. The absence of washers, bushings, fasteners, seals, O-rings, caps, lubrication, etc., are often concealed once the component has been reassembled. Thus, reassembly errors often create the opportunity for double jeopardy: a high probability of forgetting something important during reassembly, and a low probability of detecting the error once the job is completed.

Slips, Mistakes, and Violations

Failures by a mechanic to perform a task as planned are commonly termed slips, lapses, trips or fumbles. A slip occurs when the mechanic is trying to do the right thing, but screws it up somehow. Slips can be caused by:

  • Omitting some necessary action;
  • Performing some necessary action in a clumsy fashion;
  • Performing some unwanted action; and
  • Carrying out the right actions in the wrong order.

Such slips most often occur when doing tasks by memory -- often well-practiced tasks that are done frequently in an automatic fashion.

Mistakes are higher-level failures caused by an error in the plan itself. These are usually caused by lack of knowledge, and occur most commonly when performing tasks that are not done very often. Often, mistakes are caused by trying to do something by memory that should have been looked up on the service manual. Forgetting to torque a cylinder hold-down nut is a slip; torquing it to the wrong torque value is a mistake.

Violations are deviations from standard practices, rules, regulations, or standards. While slips and mistakes are unintentional, violations are usually deliberate. They often involve cutting corners in order to take the path of least resistance, and often become part of a mechanic's habit pattern.

In a recent column I wrote about an incident in which the pilot of a Cessna 340A launched into IMC on the first flight after maintenance, only to discover that his airspeed indicator, altimeter and VSI stopped working as the aircraft climbed through 3000 feet. The cause of the problem turned out to be a mechanic's failure to reconnect a static line that had been disconnected during maintenance to facilitate access. The mechanic's failure to reconnect the line was an inadvertant slip -- he forgot. On the other hand, the mechanic's failure to perform a static-system leak check (required by FAR any time the static system is opened) was a deliberate violation. Because of the violation, the slip went undetected and jeopardized safety of flight.


Distractions play a big part in many errors of omission. A common scenario is that a mechanic installs some nuts or bolts finger-tight, then gets a phone call or goes on lunch break and forgets to finish the job by torquing the fasteners. I have personally seen some of the best, most experienced mechanics I know fall victim to such seemingly rookie mistakes. I know of several fatal accidents and countless less-serious incidents caused by such omissions.

Just as pilots need a "sterile cockpit" during high-workload phases of flight, mechanics need a distraction-free workplace when performing safety-critical maintenance tasks. Unfortunately, the typical piston GA shop is a distraction-rich environment. Phone calls come in. Customers drop by unexpectedly. UPS and FedEx drivers deliver anxiously-awaited parts. The Snap-On tool truck stops by. The shop's FAA principal maintenance inspector pays a surprise visit. The roach coach arrives with lunch.

This is less of a problem in the big turbine shops, where there's usually a Parts Manager to deal with deliveries, a Customer Service Manager to handle customer visits and phone calls, and a Compliance Manager to interface with the FAA. But in the smaller shops that owners of piston GA usually use, employees usually wear multiple hats and must deal with these distractions as they come. That leads to mistakes.

Big shops have their own issues. Shift changes cause lots of problems, when the first-shift technician assumes the second-shift technician will handle something, but the second-shift guy fails to do it because he assumes the first-shift guy handled it.

Quality Assurance

I've visited a half-dozen different GA aircraft and engine factories to watch how they build our flying machines. One of the fundamental work rules at these plants is that there must always be at least two sets of eyes that look at every step of the process: the technician that performs the work, and an inspector who verifies that the work has been done properly. Often, there are three sets of eyes: two technicians who work as a team and check one another's work, and then an inspector who re-checks the work.

Large repair stations that work on turbine aircraft often have similar rules, where designated inspectors are required to check the work of each mechanic and sign it off. But the smaller shops where most piston GA maintenance is done seldom can afford the luxury of having dedicated inspectors on staff. One A&P will sometimes ask another to check a particularly critical or complex task, but most maintenance is checked by just one set of eyes belonging to the mechanic who did the work, and most scheduled inspections are done by just one IA. Fewer sets of eyes inevitably means that more slips, mistakes, violations and discrepancies escape detection.

The Owner As Final Inspector

Aircraft owners and pilots need to understand that maintenance errors create a significant hazard, and act accordingly. The most likely time for an aircraft to suffer a mechanical problem is on the first flight after maintenance. Prudence demands a post-maintenance test flight every time the aircraft comes out of maintenance. The test flight should be done in VMC, without passengers, and in a place where the pilot can easily put the airplane back on the ground if something isn't right.

Prior to the test flight, the owner or pilot should conduct an extraordinarily thorough preflight. Make sure that all inspection plates and fairings are installed and secure, all cowling fasteners are tight, and all fuel and oil caps installed. Check that all flight controls and trim systems are free throughout their full range of motion and operating in the correct direction. Check that all instruments and avionics systems are functioning properly. Perform a ground test of the autopilot. Run up the engine thoroughly, then shut down and check for leaks. Be sure you don't smell fuel or anything burning.

In short, be thoroughly skeptical any time an aircraft comes out of maintenance. Your pre-flight and test flight are the last line of defense against maintenance errors.

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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Around the World in 70 Days, Week 3: The Mediterranean

The RTW pilots left Paris behind them and took off for Marrakech, in Morrocco, on the northwestern coast of Africa. The distance of about 1,100 nm meant only the PC-12 and the Cessna Conquest could fly nonstop. The TBM 700 and Cessna Mustang crews planned a stop in Gibraltar, near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula.

Read more.

The RTW pilots left Paris behind them and took off for Marrakech, in Morrocco, on the northwestern coast of Africa. The distance of about 1,100 nm meant only the PC-12 and the Cessna Conquest could fly nonstop. The TBM 700 and Cessna Mustang crews planned a stop in Gibraltar, near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. The Gibraltar runway intersects a busy road -- when an airplane approaches, air traffic control radios to guards to close off the road until the airplane has landed.

In Marrakech, the group enjoyed a Morroccan dinner complete with belly dancers, and spent two days touring the city. Next was a stop in Malta, then onward to spend some relaxing time on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. "From the air, the island looks rather desolate, but the white houses anchored to the rigid cliffs, set upon the grey rocks and blue ocean, fills the area with much charm," says tour leader Thierry Pouille.

The next stop was Istanbul, Turkey, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. "It is fair to say that Istanbul is a complex city," said Pouille, with neighborhoods ancient and modern, European and Asian. "The entire group was pleasantly surprised with Istanbul, a country rich in tradition and influenced by many cultures." From Istanbul, the group flew on to Sharm el Sheikh, at the edge of the Red Sea.

"We've had great flying so far," Pouille told AVweb on Wednesday. "We've had no major problems, just blue skies and tail winds." Pilot briefings include Powerpoint presentations that provide weather updates, route maps, navigation details, and even a photo of the destination runway from approach. "We're very well prepared," Pouille said, "and tomorrow, we are flying up the Nile to Luxor, to see the pyramids and the temples."

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Diamond DA40 XL Demonstrator Sale
For a limited time only, while quantities last, Diamond DA40 XL Demonstrator models are available at a special price of $299,950. The aircraft also qualify for special 2008 tax incentives. You can enjoy owning a Diamond DA40 and write off up to 93% of the purchase price. Visit Diamond Aircraft now for more information.
Opinions & Interaction back to top 

Question of the Week: User Fees vs. Rising Fuel Costs — Which Is a Greater Threat?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked AVweb readers what they have planning (flying-wise) for the summer.

With gas prices climbing and the economy stumbling, it seems most of our readers are planning to stay current and maybe attend a few local fly-ins — but that's it. Fewer grand pilgrimages to the big shows than in years past, with only 14% of those who answered attending AirVenture and a full 9% telling us they're seriously considering hanging up their wings!

For the complete breakdown of reader responses, click here.
(You may be asked to register and answer if you haven't already participated in this poll.)


This week's Question comes from AVweb reader Steve Allen:

Which is the bigger threat to general aviation,
user fees or rising fuel prices?

(Click 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.

AVweb Insider Blog: Recalling the Big One (Not WW II, The Great Leaning War)

As the editor of Aviation Consumer, Paul Bertorelli gets to handle a lot of top-notch kit — some of it so good that he has a hard time imagining why the rest of the world hasn't embraced it. Case in point: With avgas more than $5 a gallon for most, why aren't more people running lean of peak? "If you could run your car the same way you run your airplane lean, you could increase fuel economy by about 20 percent. Who wouldn't do that?" wonders Paul on our AVweb Insider blog.

Read more.

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.

Make Plans Now to Attend a 2008 Savvy Aviator Seminar
Mike Busch will be conducting Savvy Aviator Seminars in Rapid City, SD and Santa Maria, CA. Sign up for one of these classes and learn how to save thousands of dollars on maintenance costs, year after year. Do it before your next annual inspection! For complete details and to reserve your space, click here.

AVweb founder Mike Busch has been selected by the FAA and supporting aviation organizations as the National Maintenance Technician of the Year. Busch will be presented his award at a ceremony during EAA AirVenture.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Landmark Aviation (KLAL, Lakeland, FL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the Lakeland Florida location of Landmark Aviation (KLAL).

AVweb reader Alec Thigpen recommended the FBO, telling us how manager Stephen Leidigh helped him (and others) during the very busy week of Sun 'n Fun:

[O]n a busy Saturday of Sun 'n Fun, [Stephen made time] to personally take us to our plane on a somewhat distant parking area when we were unable to get a SNF shuttle to come get us. He also took another group to their airplane as well. The facilities were perfect for all of our needs, and there was a fuel discount during the week of the show as well. Their friendliness was quite nice and not all that common at many FBOs when things get hectic.

Kudos to the folks at Landmark!

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!

AVweb Bookstore Features Downloadable Jeppesen Training Manuals
AVweb Bookstore offers Jeppesen (and other) maintenance and pilot training manuals in e-book and book format, letting customers choose how to receive content. E-book advantages including complete search ability, no-cost and instant delivery, and storing hundreds of volumes on a laptop or mobile device. Attention, international customers — no import taxes or fees! For a complete list, call (800) 780-4115 or go online.

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

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

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings.  The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week."  Want to see your photo on AVweb.com?  Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.


Last week's coffers were filled to overflowing with great photos, the coin of the realm in the "POTW" kingdom — but that doesn't mean you folks can take a week off. The number of submissions to our contest are just now starting to creep back into familiar summertime territory, so don't give up on us now. Keep those photos coming, O.K.?

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copyright © Daniel Valovich
Used with permission

Memorial Day Highlights

This week's top honor goes to semi-regular contributor Daniel Valovich of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Daniel's certainly uploaded some great photos over the last couple of years, and he always leaves us wondering the same thing: Just how cool is it to spend all your time attending fly-ins, barbecues, and fireworks displays? Seriously, if flying over Lake Hamilton watching fireworks is all in a day's "work" for Mr. V., we shutting down AVweb and getting into another line of work ... !


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Used with permission of Brett Bohannon

Easy Does It ...

Brett Bohannon of Augusta, Georgia is back at work now (sorry, Brett), but he took this great photo while on vacation at Alaska's Lake Hood a couple of weeks ago. "When I arrived, the lake was still frozen," writes Brett, "but it was [soon] thawed ... and they were sticking planes in the water."


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Used with permission of Charles Kirkland

Raptor with Talons Bared

Charles ("Lindy") Kirkland of Fredericksburg, Virginia was quick on the shutter, capturing this Raptor with its bay doors open at the Andrews Air Force Base open house.


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Used with permission of Russell Reed

Pacific Prowler on Approach

Russell Reed of Nunn, Colorado took his eleven-year-old Mitchell to see — well, "his first Mitchell," Pacific Prowler.


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Used with permission of Michael Roth

Ready to Begin Training

We don't know this fella's name, but Michael Roth of Krum, Texas is the one who interrupted his pre-flight check to snap the photo.


Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

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.

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