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A corrupt file contained in a normal software upload brought down the FAA's main flight planning computer on Tuesday, delaying
hundreds of flights and prompting questions about the inevitability of it happening again. FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto told eWeek the corrupt file stopped flight plans from being filed at the
FAA's Hampton, Ga. facility, which is the principal flight planning computer. "Basically, all the flight plans that were in the system were kicked out," Takemoto said. "For aircraft already in the
air, or had just been pushed back form the gate, they had no problems. But for all other aircraft, it meant delays."
The system switched to the FAA's backup flight planning computer in Salt Lake City, which was quickly overwhelmed by airlines trying in vain to enter flight plans. "They just kept hitting the
'Enter' button. So the queues immediately became huge," Takemoto said. "On top of that, it happened right during a peak time as traffic was building. Salt Lake City just couldn't keep up." The Georgia
computer was fixed in two-and-a-half hours but it wasn't until the FAA asked airlines to stop filing flight plans that the backlogs started to clear. All was reported normal on Wednesday but eWeek is
openly wondering how much longer the "a creaky old IT system" can continue. They system is more than 20 years old and the company that built it has been out of business most of that time, eWeek
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates several busy airports in the New York City area, is at odds with the FAA over a plan to auction off takeoff and landing slots at JFK,
Newark and LaGuardia. The Port Authority and the Air Transport Association both have asked a federal court to stop the FAA from auctioning off the slots. On Tuesday, the FAA said it has initiated an investigation to determine if the Port Authority would be in violation of federal laws if it tries to
discourage airlines from participating in the auctions or to prevent them from using the auctioned-off slots. "If the proposal by the Port Authority is in fact discouraging open access to the
airports, the Port Authority may no longer be eligible for FAA grants, or payments under existing grants, until the matter is resolved," the FAA said. The FAA is scheduled to auction two slots
previously allotted to now-bankrupt EOS Airlines at Newark on Sept. 3.
In addition, two NPRMs issued in the spring propose to auction a limited number of takeoff and landing slots at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia Airports. "The auctions will preserve competitive airline
service, help lower fares for service to and from the region, and give new carriers an opportunity to enter the market," the FAA said. The Port Authority says the proposed slot auction "would result in higher
costs for airlines, increased ticket prices for airline passengers, and fewer flights to small communities." The Airports Council International also opposes the slot auction, calling it "misconceived"
and an unlawful trampling on the Port Authority's rights.
When non-flying bystanders are killed in the crash of a general aviation airplane, it's sure to raise safety concerns about GA airports and operations. Last Friday, when a homebuilt Velocity crashed
into a house near North Las Vegas Airport, killing an elderly couple in the house, officials questioned whether experimental aircraft should be allowed to fly from the airport, which is in a densely
populated urban area. The airplane had just over five hours total time and the purpose of the flight was to test the performance of the airplane and engine with the supercharger engaged. The airplane
failed to gain altitude on climb-out and crashed shortly after takeoff, the NTSB said in a preliminary report.
The pilot, Mack Murphree Jr., 76, also was killed. Clark County Aviation Director Randy Walker said he thinks experimental airplanes should be restricted to airports that are located in less densely
populated areas. "I think the regulatory process on airport systems need to be revisited in the coming weeks. I am going to ask to meet with the members of our congressional delegation to see if
something can be done," he said at a news conference. "I do not believe under our circumstances that experimental
and high-risk aircraft operations, such as training and solo flights, belong in an urban airport," he said. EAA President Tom Poberezny responded with a letter to Walker this week, citing the safety record of amateur-built aircraft operations at that airport. "To propose that eliminating all Experimental aircraft
from the airport would enhance its safety record is unjustified," Poberezny wrote.
"The answer does not lie in restricting entire segments of aviation in response to any single accident or incident. Rather, we must continually learn from experience and continue to advance the
safety of flight." Velocity released a statement expressing sadness over the accident, and noted that there have been "no Velocity accidents that have been attributable to the design of the
When the FAA earlier this summer revealed its proposed changes to how it will interpret and enforce the 51-percent rule that governs homebuilding, the reaction from pilots and builders was quick and
overwhelmingly negative. Now the comment period has been extended, to Sept. 30, and EAA says that so far most comments support the position that the changes are not necessary. "This new requirement
only makes it more difficult for legitimate amateur-builders to document compliance," said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president for regulatory affairs. "It would have no effect on those who may
currently fraudulently declare that their aircraft was constructed by amateurs, which is what the FAA wants to eliminate." EAA suggested that the dormant primary kit-built category could be revived,
which would be more flexible in allowing pilots to build and fly their own aircraft without having to perform more than half of the aircraft construction tasks. Comments on the proposed changes are
being accepted via e-mail.
For more information about this issue, see the EAA Web site, and visit the recent AVweb InsiderBlog post by Kitplanes Editor Marc Cook. Cook also hosted a series of four podcasts from Oshkosh, in which he interviews leading members of the kitplane
community about the impact of the proposed rule changes.
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.
When a new company took over the assets of Adam Aircraft earlier this summer, it was made clear that
development of the A700 jet would proceed, but the A500 in-line twin was of no interest. Unfortunately for the five owners who have already taken delivery of an A500, this left them in a bind. Mike
Hackett, a retired airline pilot who lives in Napa, Calif., paid $1.25 million for his A500 twin. "It's grounded," he told The
Denver Post last week. "I can't fly it." The aircraft requires maintenance and parts that only the manufacturer can provide, he said. Hackett and three other owners have banded together in a new
group called the A500 Owners Association, hoping to convince the new company, AAI Acquisition, to provide support for the fleet. However, "There's no economic model that justifies setting up a support
team to support just five planes in the field," AAI's head of customer support, Jan D'Angelo, told The Post. "There's no critical mass to make it economically viable."
The last A500 to be delivered went to the New Mexico state police. Since it is operated under public-use rules, it may be possible for the state to keep it flying more easily than private owners
can, according to KOAT.com. AAI has said the company plans to certify the A700 jet by 2010.
When hurricanes threaten airplanes, all the choices for owners can look daunting. Forecasts are not exact, and moving the airplane out of harm's way takes time and money. But letting it sit and
counting on insurance to cover the damage is also risky, and AVweb's Paul Bertorelli argues in a recent
InsiderBlog post it's a bad choice for many reasons. Now, to make the choice to move the airplane a little easier, insurer AIG Aviation said this week it will double the amount of its hurricane
relocation coverage on most light-aircraft policies from $500 to $1,000. "We understand that our policyholders' costs of protecting their aircraft have gone up; therefore, increasing this protective
coverage was simply the right thing to do," said Will Lovett, president of AIG Aviation, North
Avemco's Mike Adams told AVweb editor Russ Niles in a recent podcast that his company is in favor
of relocating the airplane if that's an option, but added that Avemco bases its rates on the belief that in many cases that won't be possible or even safe.
This coverage allows the policyholder to focus on protecting his or her own life, family, home, and business, Adams said, and the airplane is often far down the list of concerns. "To try to fly out
in the midst of a huge storm isn't always the best idea," he said. Hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean extends from June 1 to Nov. 30, with maximum activity in early to mid September.
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Sikorsky flew its X2 technology demonstrator for the first time on Wednesday, from its facility in Horseheads,
N.Y. The X2 is intended to advance the state-of-the-art for counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopters, the company said, and establish that a helicopter can cruise at 250 knots while retaining
excellent low-speed handling, efficient hovering, safe autorotation, and easy transition to high speed. The prototype has been in development for four years. The 30-minute flight included maneuvers
such as hover, forward flight, and a hover turn.
"We look forward to expanding the flight envelope for this demonstrator and will continue to conduct market analysis to determine the next steps for this important program," said James Kagdis,
manager of advanced programs. Sikorsky President Jeffrey Pino said the X2 is far from being a product, "but closer than ever to realizing the potential."
Among the new technologies being tested on the X2 are fly-by-wire flight controls, counter-rotating all-composite rigid rotor blades, hub drag reduction, active vibration control, and an integrated
auxiliary propulsion system. The X2 project is funded solely by Sikorsky.
A solar-powered, unmanned aircraft launched from the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona has flown for 82 hours 37 minutes, more than twice as long as the current official world record of 30 hours 24
minutes set by Global Hawk in 2001, the manufacturer said on
Sunday. However, the flight by Zephyr, built by QinetiQ for U.K. and U.S. defense agencies, will likely remain unofficial because required record-breaking protocols were not followed. "We were
concentrating more on the flight than the record," QinetiQ spokesman Douglas Millard told The
Associated Press. The small, 66-pound carbon-fiber aircraft is launched by hand. By day it flies on solar power generated by paper-thin silicon solar arrays that cover its wings. By night it is
powered by lithium-sulphur batteries, which are recharged by solar power during daylight. The Yuma flight trial took place between July 28 and 31 and reached altitudes up to 60,000 feet. The trial
included a military assessment of a U.S. Government communications payload.
"In addition to setting a new unofficial record, the trial is a step towards the delivery of Zephyr's capability for joint, real-time, battlefield persistent surveillance and communications to
forces in the field at the earliest opportunity," said Simon Bennett, a QinetiQ spokesman. Potential applications for Zephyr include earth observation and communications relay in support of a range of
defense, security and civil requirements, the company said.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will offer two new doctoral degree programs in 2009, including the first Ph.D. in Aviation in the U.S.,
the school said this week. The new program will allow students to "pursue interests in aviation in a diverse, intellectually versatile and multidisciplinary environment and to affect a global impact
on the aviation industry," the university said in a news release. The flexible, online program will require
one week a year on campus and will take about three years to complete. The university is also offering a new Ph.D. program in Engineering
Physics at its Florida campus at Daytona Beach, which covers topics in space physics, upper atmospheric physics, remote sensing, spacecraft instrumentation, spacecraft systems engineering, and
control of aerospace systems. "These doctoral programs are designed to give both working professionals and research professionals the opportunity to pursue their intellectual interests through
rigorous programs and meet their professional goals to prepare them to serve as our aviation, science, and engineering technology leaders of tomorrow," said Dr. John P. Johnson, Embry-Riddle
The university is accepting applications for both programs now. Accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is pending.
A safety audit of the FAA conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization gave the agency a score of 91 out of 100.
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In Florida, you never know quite where the storm will go, but you can still make sensible evacuation decisions. Oh, and if you think you're subsidizing the sunny Florida lifestyle with your insurance
rates, you need to read Paul Bertorelli's latest blog on this topic at the AVweb Insider.
Q: What's the Difference Between a $10,000 Annual and a $2,500 Annual? A: SAMM Mike Busch and his team of seasoned maintenance professionals are saving their aircraft-owner clients thousands of dollars a year in parts and labor not to mention hours of hassle
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Last week, we asked whether electronic emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) should be required equipment in the cockpit.
The largest segment of respondents to our unscientific poll said it should be up to the pilot, accounting for 42% of readers who answered. The rest of your responses were
pretty evenly distributed among the other choices.
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 recent incident in Nevada has some calling for a ban on experimental and/or homebuilt airplanes at
major airports in densely populated areas. We want to hear what you think.
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.
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
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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.)
AVweb readers logged some serious time this week, with many recommending FBOs they visited during their travels. Frank Ladd called our attention to Indiana's Montgomery Aviation, which he praises for taking the "big gamble" of opening an FBO location at Grissom Air Reserve Base in Peru,
Indiana. KGUS is U.S. Air Force Base recently opened for public use, and, as Frank writes:
It has been a major feat ... for an FBO to go into this location headfirst and start developing a new FBO where no FBO has ever existed in the 70+ years of existance of Grissom Air Force Base. In
economically hard times, Montgomery Aviation should be praised for their forward thinking.
If you pass through, stop by and check out Frank's claims for yourself. And in the meantime, congratulations to Montgomery Aviation, AVweb's "FBO of the Week"!
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
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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 ***
The embarrassment of riches continues this week, as we share more post-AirVenture photos from our overflowing submission box.
Sometimes a little contrast and not much else can make for an unforgettable photo. Doug Gaudette of Xenia, Ohio kicks off the festivities this week
with a shot of Ron Awad piloting Scott Biser's Dominator.
Timothy J. Gift of Gilbert, Arizona sent us a pair of amazing photos from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport's annual Part 139 live burn
training. With any luck, this is as close as most of us will ever come to this type of situation ... .
Larry Gray of Merrimack, New Hampshire assures us this photo "was not touched up in any way." Sure, we all know what's going on here
but doesn't it make you just a teensy bit dizzy looking at the small version?
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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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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Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
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