AVwebFlash - Volume 14, Number 44b

October 30, 2008

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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You May Want to Bring the Checkbook to AOPA Expo back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Garmin's Big News: Big Screen 696 Debuts at Expo

Since early summer we've heard rumblings that Garmin would soon debut a new portable navigator and the company said today it will roll out the GPSMap 695 and 696 at AOPA Expo next week in San Jose, California. These new products end Garmin's longish product intro drought with a pair of large-screen navigators that have Electronic Flight Bag functions but aren't really EFBs. The 695/696 are tablet-size products (5.7 by 7.7 by 2 inches) with the basic functionality of the popular GPSMap 496 navigator. The new products add one intriguing function we can't wait to see: electronic charts and expanded weather capability.

The hardware itself is Garmin's first aviation-specific effort in more than 10 years—previous aviation portable navigators have been adapted from Garmin's marine or automotive hardware base. Garmin's Jessica Myers told us that development work on the 696 lead to the G300 EFIS to be offered in Cessna's Skycatcher LSA. The 696's WVGA color display is capable of depicting a full size approach plate and, as with the GPSMap 496, the 696 will display XM-based datalink weather, linked in through a smart antenna similar to that used on the 496. As with other Garmin portables, the 695/696 can operate on batteries (2 ½ estimate battery life) or ship's power and it has an internal antenna for GPS reception. (No Bluetooth capability is planned.) The 695 is identical to the 696, but lacks weather capability. Both units will be available for sale at AOPA Expo for $2,695 and $3,295, respectively.

For more, see Garmin.com.

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Discouraging News Buffets VLJ Sector back to top 

Analysts Grim On Eclipse Future

Two recent reports by analysts in the aviation industry conclude that Eclipse Aviation may not be able to survive, and both predict an end to production by sometime next year. "With numerous lawsuits from suppliers and customers, Eclipse faces the prospect of involuntary or voluntary bankruptcy," says Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia in a recent report (PDF) on the company's prospects. "Our forecast calls for production to end in 2009." This week, a study by Forecast International reached a similar conclusion. "We believe that the company will be able to push production out into early 2009 but will be forced to cease production within the first quarter of 2009," said analyst Douglas Royce. The report estimates that only about 12 Eclipse 500s will be produced in early 2009, and "even this forecast may prove too optimistic," said Royce. The Forecast International report, which will be issued in December, cites the current crisis in the credit markets as a factor. Eclipse has said that it needs to find $200 million to $300 million in new equity investment. "Under the circumstances, Forecast International believes that securing new funding, while still possible, is unlikely," said Royce. "Forecast International has cut its forecast for the Eclipse 500 accordingly." Eclipse did not respond to AVweb's requests for comment on the reports.

Aboulafia said the Eclipse jet stands a chance in the marketplace if new owners take over the company and revamp the business plan. He also noted that the Russian government has promised funding for an Eclipse production line in Russia, but there is no way of knowing whether that funding will materialize.

A700 Certification Shelved

AAI Acquisitions says it still plans to certify the A700 very light jet but the "unprecedented" global economic situation has forced the company to sit tight for now. In a statement, the company said it will come up with a new schedule for certification after things have settled down. "Flight test and other development activity have been suspended," the statement said. "AAIA's workforce is being pared to a size necessary to sustain the company while a new schedule and strategic plan are developed."

Staff were notified on Monday and word started to get out Tuesday at Centennial Airport in Englewood, Colo., where the company, formerly Adam Aircraft, is headquartered. Airport spokesman Robert Olislagers didn't appear optimistic about the company's future in his comments to the Denver Business Journal. "We already went through this drill with Adam Aircraft," he said. " It's obviously very unfortunate. It appears that AAI is getting caught up in the credit crunch out there. It's a worldwide problem."

Aircraft Spruce at the AOPA 2008 Expo in San Jose, California
Come join the Aircraft Spruce team in San Jose, California at the AOPA Expo (Booth #1534) November 6 and 7 from 10am-6pm and November 8 from 10am-4pm. Take advantage of some of your favorite products on sale, complimentary ground shipping (does not apply to hazardous or oversize products) and Aircraft Spruce's helpful staff to answer your questions. For more information, call Aircraft Spruce at 1 (877) 4-SPRUCE, or visit online.
The Price of Air Safety: Constant Improvement back to top 

NTSB Wants Safer Medical Flights

The NTSB this week issued its annual list of "Most Wanted Safety Improvements," and topping the list for aviation: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Flights, making the list for the first time. "Although the Board has issued recommendations to improve EMS safety, the FAA has not implemented the changes," the NTSB said. "In the last 11 months, there have been nine EMS accidents, resulting in 35 fatalities." The board also wants to improve runway safety by implementing better information and alerts, and requiring pilots to calculate landing distances based on current information. Other items on the list were better practices for flying in icing conditions, crew resource management training, and crew member fatigue. The board would also like to see widespread use of image recorders in cockpits, even in smaller aircraft that are not now required to have recording devices, to help in post-accident analyses.

One item that was on last year's list has been resolved -- "Eliminate Flammable Fuel/Air Vapors in Fuel Tanks on Transport Category Aircraft." The FAA enacted a rule in July that requires fuel/air mixtures in all fuel tanks to be below a prescribed flammability level for all newly manufactured aircraft that have more than 30 seats. "All of these safety-related issues highlighted in the Most Wanted List should be addressed promptly," said board chairman Mark Rosenker. "Though we are encouraged by progress being made, resulting in some items being removed from the list, several of these safety concerns have been on this list since its inception."

FAA Sets Higher Safety Goals For GA

The FAA released its latest Flight Plan (PDF) on Tuesday, in which the agency sets out its goals and priorities for the next four years, from 2009 to 2013. Reducing general aviation accidents is one of the agency's top objectives. According to the report, the last three-year period was the safest ever recorded in the history of GA. Over the next 10 years, the FAA aims to reduce GA fatal accidents to no more than one per 100,000 flight hours. Improved technology and infrastructure will help to achieve that goal, the FAA says. Infrastructure enhancements will include 500 new WAAS approaches to be published by mid-2010. GA pilots also can expect to find more unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace. About 40 experimental certificates for such operations have already been awarded, and the report says the FAA will continue to develop policies, procedures and approval processes to help meet the demand.

The report says the agency will also work to optimize the use of weather cameras, and will continue to focus on improving the safety of GA and Part 135 operations in Alaska.

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News Briefs back to top 

Truck, RJ Tangle

Click for (slightly) larger images

FAA records are full of reports of various pieces of ground equipment coming in contact with aircraft on ramps and taxiways all over the country but an incident at O'Hare International Airport a couple of weeks back was out of the ordinary. As the accompanying photos show, a Skywest Regional Jet and an airport service truck were in a head-on collision.

The mishap injured one airport worker in the truck seriously while the other two occupants had minor injuries. The accident happened about 5 a.m. on Oct. 18 and authorities are still trying to figure out how it happened. There were no passengers on the aircraft and none of the crew were injured.

Wolf Aviation Fund Seeks Grant Proposals To Promote GA

The deadline is nearing to apply for support from the Wolf Aviation Fund, which provides funding for innovative projects that promote and support general aviation. Proposals must be submitted by Nov. 15. The fund provides grants once each year, of a few hundred dollars to a maximum of $10,000. Proposals are easy to prepare, and most of the funding goes to smaller projects. Last year, for example, the fund supported airport outreach events, the publication of a special aeronautical chart showing Idaho's backcountry landing strips, aviation career days at a library in California, the Able Flight Cross Country Tour, and many more worthy programs. "Last year, there were many good ideas that could not receive help due to limited funds," says Rol Murrow, director of the fund. He added that many proposals were offered partial support as challenge grants so the recipients then could seek additional funding. "This approach has proven quite successful," Murrow said. Go to the fund's Web site for complete instructions. The Foundation is working to increase the support available for projects, he added, and potential donors are invited to contact the fund by e-mail.

Projects must fit into the foundation's seven major program areas -- Developing Public Policy and Airports; Networking and Mutual Support; Development and Alternative Resources; Communications, Media, and Community Relations; General Aviation Technology, Safety, and Noise; Improving Public Understanding and Perception; and Aviation and Space Education. Visitors to AOPA Expo in San Jose, Calif., will find the Wolf Aviation Fund in the Public Service Area at Booth Number 7, Nov. 6 to 8.

Zeppelin Starts Passenger Flights Over Bay Area

Airship Ventures is now up and running with its German-built Zeppelin, offering sightseeing flights to the general public in an airship, the first time such flights have been available in the U.S. in about seven decades. The company started media flights this week from Moffett Field, just south of San Francisco, and will start passenger operations on Friday. The ship will also fly from Oakland International Airport and from Charles Schulz Airport in the Sonoma Valley. The Zeppelin is almost 250 feet long. Large windows offer a 360-degree view, and the cabin seats up to 12 passengers, who are free to move around during the flight. The airship flies low and slow, topping out at about 1,200 feet AGL and 35 to 40 mph. Hour-long tours run about $500 per seat. The ship can also be chartered by the hour.

The company may fly the ship to EAA AirVenture or the Albuquerque balloon festival next year, if a sponsor steps up with funding. Airship Ventures' future business plans include the addition of a second Zeppelin airship, to be based on the U.S. east coast, followed by a third Zeppelin devoted to air shows, special events and scientific research missions. The company will also expand its facilities at Moffett Field, offering facilities for catered corporate and special events.

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News Briefs back to top 

Red Bull Air Race Goes Live Online

This Sunday, Nov. 2, for the first time, a Red Bull Air Race will be broadcast live over the Internet. The race, to be held in Perth, Australia, is the final event in this year's series. The Red Bull Race is known for spectacular settings -- the Perth race course is set along the banks of the Swan River -- and for high-speed, high-G maneuvers. Over 300,000 people are expected to be there to cheer the pilots on. "It's going to be a very difficult, fast, twisting and turning track which will require a refined race line," said Drew Searle, one of the race organizers. "This should result in a track that's much more about pilot judgment than just pure speed." Going into this weekend's final race, Hannes Arch, of Austria, in his second year of competition, has a strong lead after a fast rise from behind early in the season. Britain's Paul Bonhomme holds second-place overall and U.S. pilot Kirby Chambliss starts the race in third. Click here to go to the live webcast. Remember, the race is live on Sunday, Australian time -- your local time may vary.

All 12 of the Red Bull pilots will fly in this weekend's competition. Going in to the race in 4th through 12th place: Mike Mangold (USA), Peter Besenyei (Hungary), Steve Jones (UK), Nigel Lamb (UK), Michael Goulian (USA), Alejandro Maclean (Spain), Nicolas Ivanoff (France), Sergey Rakhmanin (Russia), and Glen Dell (South Africa).

EAA AirVenture 2009 Is Not So Far Off

It may still be over nine months away, but it's not too soon for the folks in Oshkosh -- or for aviators around the world -- to be planning and working and thinking about EAA AirVenture 2009. The date has already been set -- July 27 to Aug. 2 -- and so far several highlights have been announced. WhiteKnightTwo, the carrier ship for the new SpaceShipTwo space tourism vehicle, is expected to fly in; participants from the five visits of British Airways' Concorde to Oshkosh are planning a reunion; and aviation's humanitarian role around the world will be recognized. Special programs saluting international aviation anniversaries and homebuilt aircraft are also being developed. Comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, who is also an experienced helicopter builder and pilot, drew a crowd of about 10,000 last summer, and he'll be back next year, with a show on Saturday, Aug. 1. More special guests and events will be announced as the schedule fills up.

The AirVenture Web site features information for visitors, including admission rates, housing, forum presenters, special attractions and more. "At EAA AirVenture, we often see and hear about the big events, such as the one-of-a-kind aircraft or the new innovations in flying," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman. "But more important, in one week this is where the whole, true spirit of aviation comes together to celebrate the world of flight."

On the Fly ...

AOPA Expo is coming up next week, Nov. 6 to 8, in San Jose, Calif....

Bell Helicopter will lay off 500 workers, due to the loss of a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense for the development of the ARH-70A helicopter, the company said in a news release on Wednesday...

Boeing and its striking machinists union have reached a tentative agreement...

S-TEC has the FAA OK to add WAAS upgrades to Alliant integrated avionics...

The Polar First pilots, who flew around the world via both poles in a helicopter, have a new book out about their adventure.

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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

Correction: Falx Air's Cutting-Edge VTOL

In Monday's edition of AVwebFlash, we incorrectly stated the proposed selling price of the Falx Air VTOL personal aircraft as $1.5 million. The creators actually hope to have a base price of $250,000. We also called the aircraft a tiltrotor. It's more accurately described as a tiltwing.

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.

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New on AVweb back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #139: Good Night, Moon

Brainteasers As winter approaches, days get shorter ... well, not shorter; they're still 24 hours each, but they do get darker. To master nighttime's dark side, shed light on the following questions.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

Question of the Week: Uncertain Future for Leading VLJs

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week we reported on a U.S. Air Force program to train UAV pilots who won't have actual experience in the cockpit of an aircraft and a disagreement between the FAA and unions ove whether tower and radar controllers should be cross-trained. Given the news, we thought it would be a good time to ask if aviation training (as a rule of thumb) should be job-specific or a little broader.

Your responses seem to bear out the 21st Century notion that the age of specialization is drawing to a close. 39% of those who took time to participate in our informal poll agreed with the statement specialization should occur only after general knowledge is learned and demonstrated, and another 32% of you said that there's too much cooperation and integration of duties to comparmentalize them; everyone should be comfortable with every job involved in their mission.

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.)


Amid troubling new reports on some of the most promising very light jets, we find ourselves wondering what the future holds for AAI (owners of the Adam A700 design) and Eclipse. We imagine our readers are doing some wondering as well, and we're curious what you think.

Where will the VLJ market shake out,
as far as Eclipse and AAI are concerned?

(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.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Court Upholds FAA Authority

A Connecticut court has rejected yet another bid by a civic government to chip away at the virtually absolute authority of the FAA in aviation matters. According to Stratford, Conn., lawyer Paul Lange, the town of East Haven was trying to block the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority from proceeding with an FAA-funded runway safety area project. The airport doesn't meet FAA standards for overruns and the FAA is paying 95 percent of the cost of bringing it into compliance. All of the work will take place on land already owned by the airport. In her decision, Judge Janet C. Hall said "the regulation of taxiways and runways is preempted by federal law," meaning East Haven can't pass any ordinance that would prevent the FAA from going about its business, which, in this case, is aviation safety.

Lange said East Haven may appeal the decision but the "decision is important for other constrained airports seeking to simply bring their [runway safety areas] up to current FAA standards. He noted that the judge was also of the opinion that the FAA's pre-eminence would also apply if the safety areas were to be built on land outside airport boundaries.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Recession? What Recession? Airplane Sales Tell the Tale

Cirrus Design's Alan Klapmeier isn't the only one saying the mainstream media is whipping consumers into a frenzy over recent economic stumbles. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli is on the same page, reminding us in his latest AVweb Insider blog that aircraft sales are the canary in the mineshaft when it comes to leading economic indicators. Thus far, brokers say they haven't seen a major downturn ... .

Read more.

AVweb Insider Blog: Viral Video Is Just What The Creators Ordered

You've probably already seen it by now and made up your own mind, but is the YouTube video of a Red Bull-type race plane losing a wing and then miraculously landing the real deal? AVweb Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles doesn't think so, but he feels obliged to mention it in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

Read more.

Go Green with Diamond: $1.99 Fuel
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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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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.


The top themes in this week's batch of "POTW" submissions:

  • Rotored aircraft. (No surprise there — and we do love 'em.)
  • Halloween and holiday-themed pics. (Again, it's that time of the year.)
  • Vapor trails! (We weren't expecting that one, but we'll go with it.)

medium | large

Used with permission of Doug Gaudette

Gyroplane First Solo

Congrats to semi-regular contibutor Doug Gaudette of Xenia, Ohio. Not only will Doug soon be wearing a brand-new AVweb cap for his contribution to "POTW," but he's actually the one doing his gyroplane solo! We can almost hear the deep breath when he writes in his comment, "Now for the tough stuff ... ."

medium | large

copyright © Mujahid Abdulrahim
Used with permission

Urban Airport Operations

Mujahid Abdulrahim of Canoga Park, California is another returning contributor, offering some perspective on this particular trip down the runway:

A Cessna Skymaster rolls on Runway 12 at Whiteman Airport in Southern California. The sprawl and development of the area populate houses and commercial buildings close to the airport. At Whiteman, for instance, takeoffs on Runway 12 are in the direction of four tall smoke stacks several hundred feet high. Approaches to landings are made over a set of powerlines that are at the airport threshold. Meanwhile, left-hand patterns are made around houses built on a hill overlooking the airport. Such is the nature of urban flying, where, as in the photo, the backdrop is always a collection of buildings, signs, and powerlines.

Y'know, we really do take some of these airports for granted ... .

medium | large

copyright © Daniel Valovich
Used with permission


Daniel Valovich of Hot Springs, Arkansas tells us the T-38 Ditto was "one of my favorites" at a recent air show. Hmmm — don't think we've seen Ditto before, it does spark some pleasant memories of this summer's air shows. (C'mon, winter — let's hurry it up and get back into air show season!)

medium | large

copyright © Outwardbound Photography
Used with permission of Donald Neuberg

A Special Pilot with Great "Skull"

We'd normally be a little concerned to see this guy peeking out from beneath a Red Cross decal, but since Halloween is coming up in a day or two, we're content to let Donald Neuberg of LaGrange, Georgia kick off the holiday.

(This one comes from the Great Georgia Air Show.)

medium | large

copyright © Thomas Auerbach
Used with permission

Toilet Papered Cub

Speaking of Halloween, the tricking seems to have come early for Thomas Auerbach of Ponca City, Oklahoma — so we'll take it upon ourselves to deliver the treat, by refer you to James Lawrence's "Ghost Rider" photo. (Which, incidentally, looks a bit like it may have been toilet-papered, too.)

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.

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.