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While the crowds at this week's NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla., are busy out on the convention floor and on the flight line checking out all the latest and greatest technology, a lot is also going
on in the meeting rooms, as movers and shakers get together to discuss issues of importance to the industry. One of the groups that met in Orlando was NBAA's Safety Committee, and this week the committee said it will revise its guidelines for training pilots
of very light jets. Changes will attempt to address the basic instrument proficiency lacking in some prospective VLJ pilots, the committee said. Also, efforts will be made to better define training
outcomes, to explain the concept of "personal minimums" and to address the unique challenges of operating into airports with short runways and inhospitable nearby terrain. The committee said it will
work with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and others to produce a rewrite of the training guidelines by the end of this year.
The guidelines also may be applicable to single-pilot certified aircraft other than VLJs that share similar levels of automation. The committee said it will also work with the FAA to update the
agency's advisory circular on how to plan for sporting events that draw large numbers of aircraft, in an effort to enhance safety at smaller airports not accustomed to handling a large number of
aircraft in a short period of time.
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Attendance at the National Business Aviation Association's 61st convention in Orlando this week was down marginally according to early attendance figures released Wednesday. NBAA spokesman Dan
Hubbard said 30,164 people attended the show, down about 600 from last year. "It's 2 percent," NBAA President Ed Bolen told AVweb. "This was a solid show."
There was also a notable absence of major sales announcements (Hawker Beechcraft's $200 million sale to
Líder Signatures S.A. notwithstanding) by manufacturers but that doesn't mean airplanes weren't changing hands. Booth workers AVweb spoke with said sales were happening and deals were
being made. As for the attendance drop, some speculated that companies trimmed their attendance numbers but still sent senior staff to the show.
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First it was zooming fuel prices, now it's volatile financial markets, and as the airlines scramble to survive, pilots are finding their work lives in turmoil. Mesa Air Group this week cut 150 pilot jobs, most of them from Delta routes that were operated by Mesa.
Meanwhile, as Delta and Northwest work toward a merger, pilots can't agree on how
to merge their seniority lists. In Milwaukee, pilots from Midwest Airlines took to the streets on Wednesday to protest the
outsourcing of new jobs flying regional jets to non-union pilots. And in Chicago this week, the union representing United Air Lines pilots was in court, as the airline sought to force union leaders to behave as tensions build
over a pilot pay dispute. And pilots for Sun Country Airlines, a regional carrier in the Twin Cities, can expect to see their salaries cut by 50 percent while the airline struggles to survive
bankruptcy. The airline's management has told employees they will be repaid next year.
Despite some discouraging news lately for those hoping to develop a next-generation air taxi system -- such as the recent demise
of DayJet -- some upbeat news came along this week when the Virginia SATSLab (VSATS), in partnership with the Air Taxi Association (ATXA), officially launched VirginiaAirTaxi.com, a new on-demand online flight reservations
system. Besides allowing travelers to book on-demand flights instantly, the site features information about the industry, commonly used air taxi aircraft, FAQs, and a detailed directory of Virginia
airports. Operators may be added to the system in as little as one business day. "Virginia has always been at the forefront of accelerating next-generation aviation," said Keith McCrea, executive
director of VSATS. "This Web site will help foster community airport utilization across the 64 local airports throughout the Commonwealth."
ATXA is demonstrating the system this week in its booth at the NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla. "In launching VirginiaAirTaxi.com, Virginia has taken a leading role in creating public awareness
about on-demand flights from their local airports onward to wherever they need to go," said Joe Leader, president of ATXA. "This opens an opportunity for every community airport to have direct flights
to hundreds of destinations. These on-demand, direct flights will be a driver of economic development to communities across the state." ATXA is an alliance of next-generation air taxi providers that
offer direct, on-demand flight service. VSATS is a public-private partnership whose mission is to research, develop and implement safe and accessible aviation technologies that promote economic
development in Virginia.
The site of Steve Fossett's crash, above 10,000 feet in the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains near Mammoth Lakes, Calif., was covered in about two feet of snow over the weekend, and officials said they
will probably not be able to return to the site until next summer. However, the NTSB already had retrieved the wreckage and the engine of the Decathlon that Fossett was flying, and the investigation
will continue. "A revised report and a determination of probable cause will be issued upon completion of the investigation," the NTSB said. Several bone fragments found at the site have been sent to a lab to see if they can be identified as a match for Fossett. One of the searchers, who has posted some photos of the recovery effort online, said he was "amazed" by how thoroughly the site had been cleaned
of debris. "Only a few pieces about the size of a silver dollar or smaller" remained, he said.
"Any Lookie Loos hoping to get there and find something to sell on eBay will be sorely disappointed," he added. An NTSB meteorologist is now compiling weather data from the area for the day of
Fossett's disappearance, looking for evidence of high winds, turbulence or other weather conditions that could have been a factor, according to The Associated Press. A thunderstorm was reportedly in the area around the time of Fossett's
disappearance. The board will also search for any trace of Fossett's airplane on radar records. Officials said the area where the wreck was found had been flown over several times by aerial search
teams, but to no avail. The first evidence of the crash was discovered by a hiker on Sept. 29, roughly one-quarter mile from the crash site.
For years, airline crews have lobbied against requests from safety advocates for video in the cockpit, but now
it seems that some crews have shot their own videos and posted them on YouTube. The FAA and Horizon Air confirmed to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that they are investigating possible cockpit violations in which pilots allowed personal electronic devices to be used to record takeoffs and landings.
The trouble is that not only are such devices not supposed to be operating during that phase of flight, but the taping also might violate rules about sterile cockpits -- that is, when flying at less
than 10,000 feet, no idle chatter or other distractions are allowed.
The HorizonAir YouTube video, which has recently been taken down, showed a takeoff from Boise and was apparently taken by somebody riding in the jumpseat, but Horizon Air spokeswoman Jen Boyer told
the P-I that would still be unacceptable. "We have a very strict sterile cockpit policy, which includes jump seater," she said. HorizonAir is cooperating with the FAA in the investigation, she
The FAA has added eight schools to its list of colleges and universities approved to train students for
careers as air traffic controllers. In the past five years, schools that are part of the FAA's CTI program -- the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative -- have graduated more than
4,000 students from their aviation programs. Three thousand of those graduates were hired by the FAA. The agency plans to hire more than 2,000 additional new controllers in fiscal year 2009. "These
schools are an excellent jump start for a job in air traffic control," said Robert Sturgell, the FAA's acting administrator. "These institutions will give thousands of future controllers an inside
track on a great career." The addition of the eight new schools increases the number of CTI schools to 31. All of the schools are accredited and offer a non-engineering aviation degree.
The eight new schools are: Aims Community College (Colorado), Broward Community College (Florida), Eastern New Mexico-Roswell (New Mexico), Embry Riddle-Prescott (Arizona), Jacksonville University
(Florida), LeTourneau University (Texas), St. Cloud State University (Minnesota), and Tulsa Community College (Oklahoma).
Well, product development is important--even if the design is almost 100 years old. The Wright "B" Flyer Inc. has built a new replica
of the aircraft that "really introduced the country to aviation," said Amanda Wright Lane, great-grand-niece of Wilbur and Orville and trustee of the Dayton-based nonprofit group behind the project.
The "Silver Bird" was on display at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando this week and its portability is one of its main features.
Wright Lane said the group already has a flying replica of the B model but it's hard (and expensive) to ship to airshows and conferences. The new one travels well and should be making the rounds of
shows next year, after a first flight early next year, which is 100 years after the Wrights formed the Wright Company to produce military and civilian aircraft.
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.
AVweb Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli is at the National Business Aviation Association's annual convention and trade show this week, where the gathering financial and credit crisis is Topic
Number One (as it is in most other sectors). While he wouldn't describe the mood as "gloomy" (at least not as gloomy as in some of those other sectors), the word "spooked" does come to mind.
AAI Acquisitions showed up at this year's NBAA Convention to flog their revival of Adam Aircraft's A700 jet. Are they serious about getting it to market? AVweb Editorial Director Paul
Bertorelli is having a hard time answering that question, but even if they are, he says, the window on new VLJ rollouts may be closing fast.
Some of Aviation's Worst Accidents Have Happened on the Ground; Find Out Why
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Last week, we reported that Canadian company Vancouver Airport Services is taking over the operation of Chicago's
Midway Airport and wondered if the implication of foreign operators and major U.S. airports was still perceived as a conflict of interest by AVweb readers.
There was no clear consensus among those who took a moment to participate in our poll, with answers running the gamut. The largest segment of respondents (accounting for 30% of those
polled) said, Privatization might be a good thing, but Americans should run their own airports.
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 ***
While the doors seemed to be falling off the global economy this week, we didn't see much evidence of hardship inside the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where the National
Business Aviation Association held its annual convention and trade show. In fact, quite a few businesses seemed to have sunnyoutlooksforbusinessaviation, at least for
the forseeable future. But what about GA?
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 email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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In case you missed any of our videos from the 2008 NBAA Convention & Trade Show in Orlando, Florida, you can watch all eight of them (plus two shorts you may find interesting) right
here. Just use the arrows at the right and left sides of the player to choose your video.
Go Green with Diamond: $1.99 Fuel
Buy a DA40 XLS between October 1 and November 30, 2008 and take delivery of your plane by December 31, and the Diamond team will buy down your fuel cost to $1.99 per gallon for the first
200 hours or 18 months, whichever comes first. The DA40 XLS is the savvy and responsible choice in this day and age of high fuel prices.
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Not all great "FBO of the Week" recommendations start with a mechanical problem, but sometimes it's just such a problem that makes an AVweb reader realize how important good support can be
when something goes awry during a trip. Case in point: Jim Dunn recently found himself repeating a maintenance misadventure that had befallen one of his buddies and decided to handle it the
same way, by seeking help from the staff of Northern Sky Air Center at KCOE in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
I was hundreds of miles away when a Bonanza owner told me how Jay lent him a mag to get his sick Bonanza home. My experience has been the same. Jay Burdeaux and all the staff at Northern Sky Air
Center always treat me like I'm a long-lost friend. They have great prices, experienced staff, and will greet you with a smile that extends from Idaho to Louisiana.
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Jay and the staff of Northern Sky.
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 ***
Lots of great photos this week and while we'd love to talk about the recurring themes (lots of helicopters, in particular), we're a little behind the eightball following
the NBAA Convention, so let's just dive right in!
No helicopters here, but Kevin Stahl of Ft. Wayne, Indiana serves up a balloon photo that's climbed all the way to the top of this week's pile
almost on sheer volume alone. (No kidding, folks that's a lot of hot air balloons!)
"October sunlight can be rewarding," writes John Mazurek of Roseville, California. Personally, we've tried to set the clocks back for two
weekends in a row, so it's great hear the extra weeks of Daylight Saving Time are benefitting someone out there.
Problem solved! We've just printed out John's photo and stuck it to the official "POTW" World Headquarters Clock with a note that November 2 is the correct day to
"fall back" in our part of the world.)
Ya'll Think He'll Get to Keep It After the Divorce?
Timothy O'Connor of Batavia, Ohio has a knack for suggesting photo captions, and we got such a kick out his question that we ran a composite of two
photos he submitted of Randy Workman's Marchetti Autogyro, Honey-Do Hell. You can find the unaltered original
You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. Don't miss 'em!
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
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West
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If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only
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