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The FAA said on Wednesday that it has begun a 30-day special review of its certification of Eclipse
Aviation's very light jet, the Eclipse 500. The review started on Aug. 11. Jerry Mack, a former Boeing safety executive, is leading an oversight team of seven FAA experts with specialties such as
flight testing, avionics, and certification, all of whom are independent of the original certification group. The FAA said the review team will look at aircraft safety, certification of aircraft trim,
flaps, screen blanking, and stall speeds. These issues were the subject of Service Difficulty Reports that have been filed by operators since the aircraft was certificated on Sept. 30, 2006. The team
will look at whether or not any of these issues were raised during the certification process and if any of the issues are currently a threat to safety. A union grievance filed in October 2006 questioned the timing of the E500 certification and suggested possible pressure from an
FAA pay-for-performance policy.
Eclipse issued a statement saying that it welcomes the independent investigation and is "confident" in the outcome. "Eclipse is confident the review will find that the Eclipse 500 was in full
compliance with all federal regulations at the time of its certification, and that all FAA testing was completed with the highest degree of thoroughness, accuracy and integrity," the statement reads.
"Without a doubt, this special review will uncover what we already know -- that the Eclipse 500 marks the safest new airplane introduction into service in 20 years," said Roel Pieper, Eclipse
Aviation's CEO. "Customer safety has always been a priority at Eclipse, and we look forward to this investigation dispelling any inaccuracies about the certification of this airplane for once and for
all." The E500 accumulated more than 5,000 test hours on six aircraft, Eclipse says, well beyond the average of 1,100 hours for a GA aircraft. The 245 aircraft delivered so far have flown more than
32,000 hours and achieved a safety record "unprecedented" for a new Part 23 aircraft, Eclipse said. The company has posted its statement at www.eclipsefacts.com. The FAA noted that such a special review is not unprecedented. In the past 10 years, the agency has conducted special reviews on the Liberty XL-2 (2008),
Mitsubishi MU-2B (2005), Cessna 208 (2005), Twin Cessna 400 Series Models (2004), Raytheon 390 (2004), and the Beechcraft T34 (2003).
Introducing AV8OR from Bendix/King by Honeywell
The AV8OR is the portable and affordable GPS built specifically for pilots, by a company that knows pilots. With navigation routing, planning and weather information for the aircraft and the
automobile, the AV8OR uses aviation software and symbology pilots understand. Its 4.3-inch touch screen is larger and easier to read than competing GPS systems, with an intuitive interface
derived from the pilot-friendly, panel-mounted Bendix/King multi-function display systems.
information, go online.
Fourteen American Eagle aircraft were damaged overnight on Monday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport when a TSA inspector used instrument probes as handholds to test the security of the
aircraft from tampering, ABCNews reported. Over 40 flights were delayed on Tuesday while mechanics checked the
airplanes. "Our inspector was following routine procedure for securing the aircraft that were on the tarmac," TSA official Elio Montenegro told ABC. However, "There is a sign that clearly says don't
step," Mary Frances Fagan, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, which operates American Eagle, told the Chicago Tribune. One pilot who posted on an Internet forum wrote, "The brilliant [TSA] employees used an instrument located just below the cockpit window that is critical to the
operation of the onboard computers. They decided this instrument, the TAT probe, would be adequate to use as a ladder."
TSA workers will be retrained to ensure that the problem doesn't happen again, Montenegro said.
An MD-82 operated by Spanair crashed on takeoff in Madrid on Wednesday afternoon. The aircraft broke apart and a fire ensued, the NTSB said. Early reports saidt 44 were dead and 45 injured, but the
death toll climbed through the day. The flight was headed for the Canary Islands, a popular vacation spot off the West Coast of Africa. Spanair is a low-cost carrier owned by SAS, the Scandinavian
Airlines System, and has been losing money. SAS had recently tried to sell it off, but couldn't find a buyer, and on Wednesday, before word of the crash, the pilots had threatened to go on strike.
There were also reports that the aircraft had aborted a takeoff an hour before the crash and passengers were warned they might have to change aircraft. Weather at the time of the crash was reported as
clear. Helicopters and fire trucks were used to suppress the fire.
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"The PiperJet has flown 12 times now," Piper spokesman Mark Miller told AVweb on Tuesday. The jet, which flew for the
first time just last month, is undergoing tests to explore stability, control and handling throughout the flight envelope. In the coming months, it will typically be flown for one to three weeks, and
then down for one to three weeks for systems upgrades and the installation of additional flight test equipment, Miller said. "We are just finishing a two-and-a-half-week flight test block and are
about to go into a two-week maintenance/upgrade block to get ready for flutter testing and put paint stripes on the airplane," he said. Piper says the jet will hold six or seven seats, cruise at 360
knots, and carry 800 pounds of payload with full fuel and a range of 1,300 nautical miles.
Piper has posted a series of interesting "design review" documents on its web site that discuss some of the jet's features, such as
trailing-link landing gear, single-engine operations, the auto-trim systems, and safety considerations in the event of an engine rotor burst.
The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) says a pending new Transport Canada regulation that would require new emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) in private aircraft is too expensive and
won't help to rescue lost pilots. The new 406 MHz gear would cost the general aviation sector $100 million -- with individual aircraft owners forking out $2,000 to $9,000 each -- and is not effective
enough to justify the costs, according to COPA. "The geostationary satellites that receive the 406 alerting signal have limitations in latitude (unreliable above 70 degrees North) and mountainous
terrain such that for 40 percent of Canada the ability to receive the 406 signal is degraded," says COPA. The
association wants Transport Canada to allow each aircraft owner to decide what equipment is best suited to their own location and operations. The deadline for comments on the pending rule is Oct. 23.
As of Feb. 1, 2009, the international COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system that receives signals from the 121.5/243 MHz frequencies used in many ELTs will be discontinued. AOPA has taken a stand against
making 406 MHz ELTs mandatory in the U.S. "The decisions to replace an existing ELT should be left to the discretion of the aircraft owner," says AOPA.
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The FAA is conducting a satisfaction survey to get feedback about flight services that are provided to pilots. The FAA says it will use the survey results to improve service and "to continuously
advance the safety and security of civil aviation." The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, the FAA says, and is being conducted by an independent research and consulting firm. Responses are
confidential and anonymous, the FAA says. Questions touch on topics such as the quality of service from Flight Service Stations, how quickly calls are answered, and the quality and usefulness of
weather information. A space is provided for additional comments. The FAA says it will conduct follow-up surveys throughout the year. It appears to be an invitation-only type of survey, so keep an eye
on your inbox.
Many manuals, regs, training texts and other reference materials now can bought in a convenient e-book format via the online AVweb Bookstore,
the company said this week. McGraw-Hill, Jeppesen, AeroEd, and the Aircraft Technical Book Company all have authorized the bookstore to distribute their publications online. The texts can be
downloaded immediately, avoiding shipping costs and waiting time, and can be read with free Adobe Reader software on a variety of platforms, including Macs, PCs, handheld devices, and the popular Kindle wireless reading device. All of the illustrations and formatting of the
printed book are preserved, and the texts are fully searchable. Hyperlinks make it easy to navigate through the text, and electronic storage makes it simple to keep your references handy at home,
while traveling, or in the cockpit. And if you're not sure that e-books are right for you, you can try one for free.
can also find plenty of traditional books, DVDs, magazines, software, and more at the AVweb Bookstore site. The bookstore features over 500 titles from 56 publishers. About 60 percent of the catalog
is now available in either printed or e-book format; that number is expected to rise to 90 percent by the end of this year, the company said. For e-book FAQs, click here.
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Here in the U.S., it's easy to forget that our continent extends well north of the border, with vast lands stretching to the Arctic Circle and beyond. But two Seattle pilots, Mark Schoening and Doug
DeVries, have set out to explore those northern lands on a 10,000-mile circumnavigation of Canada via the famed Northwest Passage. The team launched on Aug. 2 in a pair of de Havilland Beaver
floatplanes, with plans to explore wild lands, wildlife, wild weather, the Magnetic North Pole, and whatever else they may encounter. Also along on the trip is a film crew with plans to create a
documentary about the adventure. So far, Schoening, DeVries and crew have gone fishing, spotted some humpback whales, experienced a brief engine scare, camped under the stars, paid $8 a gallon for
avgas, encountered at least one famous bush pilot, kept a count of grizzly bear and musk ox and caribou sightings, and seem to be having a great time despite temperatures in the 30s.
A pilot who took off in a 172 in Roanoke, Va., and avoided talking to ATC reportedly planned to commit suicide in the airplane, but was talked down safely and taken to a medical facility for evaluation.
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All eyes are on Russia and its former Soviet sister nations this week and that has to be giving pause to some Western aviation companies that have strong ties to the Russian market.
AVweb Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles ponders what may be going through the minds of some major players in the industry in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.
Precise Flight: Hidden in Plain Sight
With design capabilities as varied as the number of aircraft models available, it's easy to find at least one device manufactured by Precise Flight in the cabin, cockpit, or body of any
aircraft on the market. In fact, integration is a key characteristic of Precise Flight's operating code.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
To no one's surprise, most of our readers as they tend to when faced with tighter regulation, longer delays, and more paperwork called it the first step in the
strangulation of all GA. That answer accounted for the clear majority of respondents (some 69%, actually), while only 1% described the measures as exactly what we need to maintain security and
keep private aviation viable.
For a complete (real-time) 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 ***
A debate in Canada is raging about mandatory equipage with 406 ELTs, and the Canadian Owners and Pilots
Association says it's not only expensive, it's outdated technology that doesn't work much of the time. We know where COPA stands, but what do you think?
Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to
NOTE: 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.
Celebrating their 45th anniversary this September, the National Championship Air Races are the last head-to-head air racing event left on Earth and are the favorite among aviation enthusiasts,
worldwide. The event features six high-speed racing classes and a static aircraft show, and this year the USAF Thunderbirds and F-22 Demonstration Team will highlight a fleet of
world-class aviation demonstrations. For more information on the National Championship Air Races or to purchase tickets, call (775) 972-6633, or
Althought it's still a relatively new FBO, Air 51 in Lexington, Kentucky keeps popping up on our radar. The latest recommendation comes from
AVweb reader Don Hagedorn, who calls this popular pit stop the "best FBO I have ever visited," prompting us break with tradition and make Air 51 our "FBO of the Week" for a second
We were delayed due to weather ... when returning to Columbia, SC from Oshkosh on 2 August. Their great staff went out of their way to take care of my 13-year-old nephew and make him feel welcome
while we waited. Fine staff, great facilities, reasonable fuel prices, and wonderful amenities. Plus, my nephew was especially thrilled by the TV in the men's room. (Ah, simple pleasures!)
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Over 17,000 Happy GAMIjectors® Customers Can't Be Wrong! GAMIjectors® have given these aircraft owners reduced cylinder head temperatures, reduced fuel consumption, and smoother engine operation. GAMIjectors® alter the fuel/air
ratio in each cylinder so that each cylinder operates with a much more uniform fuel/air ratio than occurs with any other factory set of injectors. To speak to a GAMI engineer, call (888)
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This year at EAA AirVenture we brought you fourteen video reports over the course of seven days. We realize the news was flying fast and furious during the show, so just in case you
missed any of our reports, you can catch them all here. (The main frame contains all of our videos, or you can click over to a particular video if one interests you more than the others.)
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 ***
Sure, we enjoy things like going out to the Seaplane Base during Oshkosh, eating bratwursts with friends we only see once a year, talking to strangers from all around the world and
finding out who was brave enough to fly in but maybe the best part of EAA AirVenture is that it energizes readers to submit photos to our "POTW" contest for weeks. Once again,
we've got a giant pile of photos to share with you, so let's dig in!
We were pretty happy to see photos and video of the PiperJet's first flight in Vero Beach during AirVenture week
but seeing this "behind the scenes" shot from Dennis Olcott (of Vero Beach, Florida, natch) just whets our appetite for more. Fortunately, Dennis
has promised to send some photos of his ride in the chase plane, so we'll keep our eyes peeled.
In the meantime, we'll be sending Dennis one of those keen AVweb baseball caps we like to hand out from time to time. If you'd like to earn one of those yourself, you know what
to do, of course submit those photos here.
In actuality, it's just the very strange surface of Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, seen through the lens of Randolph, New Jersey's Henry M. Holden.
This one combines two of our favorite recurring themes helicopters and glaciers and sees us off for this week.
If you enjoyed these photos as much as we did, remember that there are couple dozen more online at AVweb's home page just look for the
"POTW"slideshow in the center column!
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.
Knowledge Is Power; Knowledge Is Also a Safety Factor When Flying IFR
The IFR environment is constantly changing. You need to keep informed. IFR Refresher is the publication for you if you're serious about flying IFR. No other publication can help
maintain your IFR flying and decision-making skills.
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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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
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