AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 44a

October 27, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Smart Safety ... Leave Anxiety Out of Your Flight Plan
As a Cirrus owner, you join a lifestyle that takes safety very seriously. Whether flying for pleasure or business, you always fly smart and safe. Cirrus Perspective by Garmin is designed to help by giving you more time and information to make better decisions, reduce workload, and improve your overall flying experience. Cirrus Perspective adds more ability to experience the Cirrus lifestyle fully and leave anxiety out of your flight plan. For complete features, go online.
Top News: Staying Ahead of the Economic Curve back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Cirrus Goes To Three-Day Week

Cirrus Design has gone to a three-day work week (from four) in an effort to balance production against reduced demand. Company CEO Alan Klapmeier also told the Duluth News Tribune last week that the 2009 target for introduction of its SRS light sport model will be pushed back because of a slowdown in the LSA sector. Development of the Vision SJ50 personal jet will not be affected. "We're looking at the situation progressively, on a week-by-week basis," he said. Without an increase in demand, the three-day week will be in place at least until the end of the year, Klapmeier told the newspaper.

In September, Cirrus laid off 100 staff in Duluth and at its composites parts plant in Grand Forks, N.D. and reduced production from four aircraft a day to three aircraft a day. Business is off about 10 percent at Cirrus, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported that, overall, sales of piston aircraft were down 16 percent in the first half of 2008. Klapmeier said he's hoping for a spike in demand toward the end of the year as customers cash in on an accelerated depreciation measure passed by Congress earlier this year.

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Hurricane Norbert Aftermath back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

GA Pilots Aid Mexico's Hurricane Victims

Click for images from Alamos

The small Mexican village of Alamos, close to the Gulf of California and the Copper Canyon region, is a popular destination for GA pilots from the Southwest, who enjoy its quiet colonial charm and mountain scenery. But last week, the small local airstrip at Alamos became a lifeline, as villagers struggled to recover from a devastating hurricane that caused floods and landslides and destroyed several local bridges. "Hurricane Norbert washed away over 100 homes and damaged an additional 150 homes, all belonging to Mexican families who lost basically all their worldly possessions," Jack McCormick, president of the Baja Bush Pilots, told AVweb this week. So McCormick put out the call for help to the GA community, and last weekend 31 fully-loaded small aircraft departed from the U.S. to bring food, bedding, diapers, tarps, tools and more to the village.

The Mexican government allowed direct flights into the local airport, waiving the usual requirement to stop at an international airport first. "To see the look of joy and then the tears of appreciation on the faces of the people who receive these much-needed items is what it is all about," said McCormick. He added that many more donated supplies need to be delivered, and he is organizing a second airlift.

For more information (or to volunteer or make a donation), visit the Baja Bush Pilots web site.

Click here to view photos.

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Call JA Air Center at (800) 323-5966 to speak with an expert about your King Air 200.
Laws and Effect back to top 

U.S. Pilots Will Avoid Canada Under New ELT Rules: AOPA

AOPA has told the Canadian government that American pilots will stop crossing the border in droves if it means spending thousands of dollars on a new 406-megaHertz ELT. Transport Canada is considering making the installation of the devices mandatory in all aircraft flying in Canadian airspace as of Feb. 1, 2009. AOPA says a survey of members who routinely fly north indicates 51 percent will find somewhere else to go rather than spend the money on equipment that's not required in the U.S. On Feb. 1, the search-and-rescue satellites will stop monitoring the 121.5 MHz frequency emitted by the majority of small aircraft ELTs and will only look for 406 signals. American authorities have essentially left it up to aircraft owners to decide whether to equip with the satellite-friendly ELTs. AOPA has suggested Transport Canada allow American aircraft to carry handheld 406 beacons as a compromise to the new regulation, but AOPA's Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, wants the whole notion of mandatory 406 equipage scrapped because there are better technologies available.

COPA President Kevin Psutka has been fighting the proposal vigorously and says ELTs, no matter the frequency, fail to activate in many crashes because of damage to antennas, damage to the transmitters or masking of the signal by wreckage or terrain. He said the rule will cost the Canadian industry up to $120 million for no tangible benefit. AOPA agrees with COPA on the technology involved, noting that the forthcoming adoption of ADS-B will make ELTs redundant, since all aircraft will be constantly monitored.

The comment period for the proposed regulation ended Thursday.

Columnist Baffled By Crash Victims' Suit

New York Times business travel columnist Joe Sharkey says he was unaware of a lawsuit launched against him by the relatives of victims of a Brazilian plane crash until he read about it in an American online publication. The suit was launched by Rosane Gutjhar, the widow of Rolf Gutjhar, who was among 154 people who died when the GOL Boeing 737 they were on collided with an Embraer Legacy 600. The Association of Relatives and Friends of GOL's Flight 1907 Victims issued a news release that Sharkey was on the Legacy, which made a safe emergency landing at a Brazilian military base, minus a winglet and part of its tail. Sharkey wrote extensively about the accident, defending the business jet's pilots and blaming Brazilian controllers for the tragedy. In the suit, Gutjhar is seeking compensation for "moral damages" she claims were caused by Sharkey's accounts of the developing story. Sharkey told AVweb he can't comment directly on the suit since he hasn't seen a copy but he defended his reporting and commentary about the accident. "Obviously, anyone who followed my reporting knows that I have consistently expressed the deepest sympathy for the relatives of those who were killed," he said.

But Gutjhar claims that Sharkey's "personal attacks" against Brazil's president, air traffic controllers and, allegedly, Brazilians in general, somehow resulted in discrimination against her in the ongoing criminal proceedings against the Legacy pilots, Jan Paladino and Joe Lepore, who were ferrying the aircraft to New York from the Embraer factory. "Nothing can justify the words he used against all Brazilians. All I want from him is to take it all back," Gutjhar said in the news release. Her lawyer, Oscar Fleischfresser, was a little more pragmatic, however. "Only amends will restore the widow's dignity," he said. No figure was specified for those "amends."

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Flying in the 21st Century back to top 

New FAA Online Resource Offers Lessons From The Past

Pilots know they must always keep learning to keep safe, and one way to keep sharp is to study the mistakes made by others. To promote that effort, the FAA has created an online safety library that teaches "lessons learned" from some of the world's most historically significant transport airplane accidents. The FAA said that even though some of the accidents happened as long as 40 years ago, they all teach timeless lessons that are relevant to today's aviation community.

Each report features the accident investigation findings, resulting safety recommendations and subsequent regulatory and policy changes. The lessons learned from each investigation are explained in detail and grouped into relevant technical areas and common themes. Although all 11 accidents now online deal with transport-category aircraft, many deal with issues that are also relevant to GA aircraft, including bird strikes, wake turbulence, human error and flawed assumptions. The FAA said it plans to add another 40 accident reports to the library by the end of the year.

New Aircraft On The Edge

Something we like about aviation is that someone is always thinking about new ways to use it or apply it, and a couple of ideas have been floated recently that stretch current technology, not to mention the imagination. Now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) spends most of its time (and considerable budget) out on the edge, and its latest invitation to the dreamers and thinkers out there isn't new, but it may be something whose time has come. DARPA is calling for proposals to develop a submersible airplane that can cover 1,l00 nm (the last 100 nm at sea-skimming height), then travel underwater for 12 nm to drop off commandos. Then it has to be able to loiter in the area in seas of up to 13 feet, presumably waiting for pickup. DARPA doesn't say it'll be easy, but it does want to know if it's possible.

Meanwhile, British firm Falx Air is hoping to develop a hybrid electric tilt-rotor personal aircraft that will go up to 230 mph. The rotors will be powered by electric motors that will get their power from a gasoline-powered generator. An onboard battery will provide the power boost necessary for takeoff. The proposed price of the aircraft, which could weigh as little as 1,000 lbs., is $1.5 million. The company acknowledges there's a long way to go in getting the project off the ground but claims the technology is ready.

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News Briefs back to top 

Living The Aviation Dream

There are plenty of people who live and breathe airplanes, but it may not be too long before 37 California families get to live with their airplanes. Bob Banman and Bill Lindsay, a couple of aviation buffs, have navigated the regulatory waters to create a 37-condo development on the airport at Santa Paula, Calif., a quiet farming community about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. Now there are plenty of residential air parks where owners have their homes and hangars on the runway, but in the Sky Lofts of Santa Paula, their $800,000 home is their hangar.

In the Sky Lofts, the ground floor is all for the airplane, while the living quarters, complete with observation deck, are on the top floor. Lindsay admits there's a narrow market to draw from in the already-tough real estate market but he's upbeat about the project. "I think it is enough of a supply-and-demand type of thing, enough of a niche, that we'll be fine," Lindsay told the Associated Press.

On the Fly ...

Air show pilot Patty Wagstaff is scheduled to appear in court in Oshkosh Tuesday regarding charges stemming from an incident at EAA AirVenture July 31. In addition to the civil charges of drunk driving and refusal to provide a breath sample, Wagstaff has recently been criminally charged with resisting arrest ...

The Vancouver International Airport Authority, which recently won a bid to run Chicago Midway Airport for 99 years, is bidding, with financial partner CitiBank, to take over London Gatwick. That deal is worth $3.1 billion ...

The NTSB says the crew of an American Airlines Boeing 757 with 192 people on board decided to continue the flight from Seattle to New York on battery power alone after electrical problems shortly after takeoff. The plane made an emergency landing in Chicago when the batteries drained and the aircraft, minus several systems handy for landing, went off the runway.

AOPA Expo 2008 — Destination for the Latest in Aviation Products & Services
The 2008 AOPA Expo November 6-8, in San Jose, California offers the latest in aviation-related products and services. Register online for daily Seminar and Exhibit passes and social event tickets. Expand your aviation knowledge with over 60 hours of educational seminars, stroll through AOPA's largest show hall ever (with over 500 booths), and view over 80 aircraft at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Reader Voices back to top 

AVmail: Oct. 27, 2008

Reader mail this week about the TSA, ADS-B, ATC, FSS, NTSB, and more acronyms.

Click here to read this week's letters to the editor.

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.

Between Wheels Up and Wheels Down, There Is One Important Word: How
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New on AVweb back to top 

Flying the PAR

It can best the ILS for minimums and requires no fancy equipment, yet this approach is becoming a thing of the past.

Click here for the full story.

Getting tired of reading how someday WAAS-in-it-for-me technology will offer near-precision approaches to every ma-and-pa airport in the nation -- but it's not ready yet? Dreading the day when you'll have to choose between plunking $20,000 worth of new avionics in your panel or not flying IFR? How'd you like an approach that could get you to CAT II mins in your Skyhawk using nothing but your radio (even a handheld radio, in a pinch)?

The military has had this approach -- precision approach radar (PAR) -- widely available since the 1960s, but in today's high-tech, low-staffing world, it's on its way to extinction. At least in its current setup, that is.

The Verbal Approach

The older your ticket is, the more likely you learned about PAR approaches in your instrument training. Most instrument students today get about two sentences on the PAR: "They're available at some military airfields and allow the controller to talk you right down to ILS-level minimums. You could use one in an emergency and get down with nothing more than a hand-held radio."

Thanks, but if I ever need one, how am I supposed to get it? What's it like to fly? The answer is that they are hard to get but quite easy to fly. The equipment exists at some military bases and it's up to the base commander whether civilians can try them for practice. In the wake of 9/11, low approaches to military bases became as likely as direct routings through New York airspace, but some bases will still allow them during slow times.

I made a phone call to Brunswick Naval Air Station (KNHZ) just 20 minutes north of my home base to see if they had a PAR and if I could come up and fly it. They did and I could, but only under two conditions. The first was that I couldn't land at the base and the second was that this wasn't a blanket invitation for every pilot in the Northeast to come try out a PAR at Brunswick NAS. That worked for me and I hopped in the car for a drive to the base and a view of the PAR from the controller's side of the scope.

My guide for the day was AC1 Shea Bickerstaff, a naval air traffic controller seasoned on shipboard operations in the Middle East. Bickerstaff is now the Training Chief for ATC at Brunswick.

He gave me the tour of Brunswick's shiny, new TRACON and Tower. (If you're thinking, "Hey, isn't Brunswick NAS being decommissioned in a few years?" Yes, it is, but they just got a new ATC building. Don't ask.) Lining the wall were several large-screen color displays running the latest ATC software. Between them were two old, round scopes that looked like set pieces from Doctor Strangelove.

"The PAR is a piece of equipment that is past its shelf life," said Bickerstaff. "We had to get one of these fixed recently, and when the tech showed up -- I swear -- the guy was 82 years old."

That tech won't be needed for too much longer. Just maintaining the PAR can run $2 million a year in parts and personnel time. The PAR needs alignment every hour if it's not been used for an approach. That's only a three-minute task, but it adds up. The radar head must also be swung around by motors to point down the runway in use.

By comparison, installing an ILS costs a mere $1.3 million and the system is largely self-monitoring. Changing active runways usually requires pressing a button. Brunswick should have a new ILS in service this month, which doesn't bode well for the future of their PAR.

Until the ILS comes on line, though, the only approach other than the PAR is a TACAN (similar to a VOR-DME) that gets you within 500 feet of the ground. (See "What The Heck Is TACAN?" at right.) The PAR can get you down to within 100 feet of the ground and at visibilities as low as 1/4 of a mile, if the pilot is qualified to fly it all the way down. Not all of them are.

Practice, Practice

So that I could see a PAR from the controller's side, the Brunswick ATIS included a request "fishing" for pilots willing to fly the PAR on the clear day. Luckily for me, a KC-130 Hercules coming home from overseas took the bait and was willing to fly a PAR down to minimums for practice -- a generous offer considering this was the end of a long trip.

The scene was odd. On my left, one controller vectored the Herc on a downwind and base using a new, color scope with a datablock following the target. On my right, another controller fiddled with adjustments on a round scope with an amber sweeping line displaying two paths, one for lateral displacement and one for glidepath.

When the Herc was on an intercept to the final approach course, it got a frequency change to the guy on the round scope. There was a quick radio check and then the final approach controller started giving courses to fly and information: "Fly heading 120. Left of course. Correcting rapidly." As the aircraft established inbound and on-course, the controller issued a new heading and instructions not to acknowledge further transmissions.

Now the comments came every five seconds, "On course. Approaching glidepath … Slightly right of course … right of course, fly heading 113 … Slightly right of course, correcting. On glidepath." The Herc began a descent without any more instruction than "on glidepath." I guess those Navy boys had their numbers dialed in and winds weren't too challenging, because the rest of the approach consisted of the controller issuing one minor heading change -- two degrees -- and saying "on course, on glidepath" until the pilot broke it off at 250 feet AGL for landing.

Back in the training room where they have a PAR simulator, Bickerstaff told me it takes about six months for the average new controller to become competent on the PAR.

There is a double delay for reaction time inherent in this system. The controller must notice if the aircraft is diverging from course on the scope. He or she must then issue a correction -- after quickly deciding just how much -- and then the pilot must react and make the correction in the aircraft. The new heading or rate of descent must take effect and be evaluated by the controller on the scope.

Pilots don't like abdicating control and sometimes this is a problem on the PAR. "When you're flying the PAR, we're basically telling you to ignore your instruments," said Bickerstaff. "I'm watching the track to see how well the pilot is taking my turns. Sometimes they see the gyro go so far they stop taking the turn." Controllers can remedy this by telling the pilot this is now a no-gyro approach. This does two things. It removes headings from the instructions -- "Start left turn ... Stop turn" -- and makes pilots question the validity of those distracting instruments. Pilots then just do what they are told.

Most often, though, the system goes off without a hitch. There are even some non-official phrases that sneak in there among the PAR-experienced: "Slightly drifting left" means the heading is just a bit off but not enough to really issue a correction. It's a suggestion to give it a bit of right rudder.

My host was honest about the system from a pilot's point of view: "From being on both sides, I wouldn't want to shoot a PAR … if I had another option like an ILS."

Talk Me Down

A few days later, my friend Rudy hopped in the right seat as safety pilot and we flew up to Brunswick to try the PAR ourselves. There wasn't much to brief for the approach other than the runway we were using and the published minimums. Since we weren't bound by any Navy policy, we could fly it right down to 100 feet if we wanted. In fact, Bickerstaff told me that course guidance would be given right to the pavement if we didn't say we were going missed approach. Course guidance is accurate to 30 feet left or right by the end of the runway. Given that the runway width is 200 feet, a PAR should put us somewhere over the pavement every time.

The vectors for downwind, bases, and an intercept were identical to vectors for an ILS. Then came the frequency change to the final-approach controller and a quick radio check. We were issued headings and cleared for the approach. Acknowledging that clearance was the last thing we said.

How did it go for that first approach? Well, I had the deck stacked in my favor flying a G1000-equipped Skyhawk that day. Things were moving slowly and I could see the heading to one degree with ease. Even so there were a couple "left of course, diverging rapidly" calls until I got settled. After that, it was just like an ILS, but with a mental picture of crossed needles rather than a real one on the CDI. As I got in close, "slightly above glidepath" rang in my ears at a three-to-one ratio with "on course," which is the standard ratio if things are going well. I was told when I was over the approach lights and when I was over the threshold.

At 100 feet AGL, and easily in a position to land, we went missed.

Since that was too easy, I requested a no-gyro approach for the PAR and adjusted my view to nothing but the backup instruments Cessna installs by the pilot's right knee. The result was an approach with more "slightly right" and "slightly above" calls until Rudy reminded me to make smaller corrections close to the runway, but at 100 feet we were still in a position for an easy landing, had that been allowed.

Familiar Lessons

The PAR turned out to be a piece of cake. In a pinch, it really could get you down with nothing but a radio and an attitude indicator if need be. Like any approach, the PAR is all about stability and trends. Listening to an experienced controller giving corrections of one or two degrees and slight trend information for your glidepath is a great reminder that small corrections and a touch of patience are some of the best approach tools you have.

It's sad to think they will all fade from service. There is a system the Navy uses "on the boat" that normally provides automated approaches or CDI guidance to the pilot, but can operate like a PAR if needed. These systems are installed at a few land facilities, but don't go asking to shoot one of those.

If you can fly a PAR before they disappear, it's a fun and useful exercise. Perhaps, late at night -- when the skipper isn't in his office at mid-field -- some facilities might even let you shoot one without previous permission. (Not that I've ever heard stories about how convenient it is that no one can read "United Airlines" off the side of an empty regional jet in the dark.) In our world of ever-mechanized flying, an approach that relies entirely on the human computer is a welcome diversion.

More AVweb articles about flying in the IFR system are available here. And for monthly articles about IFR flying, subscribe to AVweb's sister publication, IFR magazine.

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AVweb Insider Blog: Unbundling — The Sensible Way to Price Airline Fares?

Air Canada unbundled its airfare structure in 2004. Could the same solution keep U.S. passengers from getting steamed when charged to check a bag? In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli lays out the case for a la carte air fares.

Read more.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

No More Nickel-and-Diming? Making a la Carte Airline Fares Work

File Size 9.0 MB / Running Time 9:50

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Last summer, the airlines got deservedly bashed for charging customers to check bags. Although the execution was ham-handed, the concept might not be. In this podcast, Robert Buckman of Amadeus (a travel industry IT giant) explains why a la carte pricing is the way of the future.

Click here to listen. (9.0 MB, 9:50)

Video of the Week: One-Winged RC Landing

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Last week, we mentioned all the great radio-controlled flyer videos that have found their way to our inbox over the last couple of weeks. Just today we came across a new one (from AVweb reader Mike Whaley) that takes the cake. As Mike writes, making a successful landing with one wing is an impressive feat "in any scale."

For the full story, check out this forum posting Mike sent to us in his e-mail:

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

AVweb's NBAA Convention 2008 Video Round-Up

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

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.

Video coverage of the 2008 NBAA Convention & Trade Show has been brought to you by Bose Corporation and WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather.

More AVweb exclusive videos can be found at http://www.avweb.com/video.

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Related Content:
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Click here for podcasts from NBAA 2008.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Western Aviation Services (TJBQ, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Western Aviation Services (WAS) at Rafael Hernandez Airport (TJBQ) in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Almost all of this week's nominations came from pilots who experienced Hurricane Omar evacuations firsthand and made it through with the help of outstanding FBOs and careful planning — but the fact that Western Aviation was nominated by a group of some 30 pilots at various airports ("TJSJ, TJIG, TJAB, TSTT, TSTX, and others," according to the form) made it stand above the rest. So did AVweb reader A.B. Ravelo's rundown of everything the team at WAS did for the GA community. Here are some of the highlights of A.B.'s account:

The panic button hit all regional aviation as the storm had projected winds of 105 mph. ... Mr. Ruben Hernandez, owner of Western Aviation Services, and his team went into high gear and offered hangar facilities free of cost to over 60 aircraft and ramp facilities to another 20. BQN controllers saw over 100 flights in less than four hours, as King Airs lined up on the downwind for Runway 8, behind C-150s and others. Overnight, the storm's easterly track pushed it out of range, and it became a non-event. However, the Good Samaritan spirit of WAS and their staff are ... [the reason why] the folks at WAS are your first friends when traveling into the Caribbean USA.

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!

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

While I was on short final into KFHU (Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista Arizona):

"Shadow-1 at runway 26, ready to take off."

"Shadow-1, hold short for landing traffic."

I then looked over at the holding aircraft and noticed that it was a Military UAV, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. This being the first one I'd ever seen, I struggled between landing my plane and looking at the UAV. Landing the plane finally caught my attention.

After landing, while on rollout, I overheard:

"Tower, was that an unmanned airplane I just passed?"

"NXXXXX: Yes, it was."

"There is actually a man sitting somewhere ... ."

Mark Harris
Flagstaff, AZ

More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry. Business AVflash is a must read. Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team.

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 version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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