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FAA Acting Administrator Robert Sturgell said this week the agency will move forward rapidly to
implement nationwide deployment of the Automatic Dependent SurveillanceBroadcast (ADS-B) system. ADS-B, which will replace radar-based services with data disseminated via satellite, will reduce
the risk of midair collisions and weather-related accidents, provide more efficient routes in adverse weather, and improve situational awareness for pilots, the agency said in a news release on
Monday. "ADS-B is the backbone of the future of air traffic control," Sturgell said. "NextGen is real and, as of today, NextGen is now. President Bush just last week stated that modernizing our aviation system is an urgent challenge, and today's announcement
demonstrates that the Department of Transportation and the FAA are taking concrete steps to do just that." The ADS-B system is now being installed in Florida. By 2013, it will be deployed nationwide,
with 794 ground stations, the FAA said. ADS-B will provide services everywhere there is radar coverage today, and will also cover areas that currently lack radar service, including the Gulf of Mexico
Work at the sites of the next key milestones for ADS-B services Juneau, Alaska; Louisville, Ky.; the Gulf of Mexico, and Philadelphia is scheduled for completion by the end of 2010,
the FAA said.
One lucky bidder on Jan. 17 will get to be the new owner of a completely restored 1929 Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor, after an auction to be held in Scottsdale, Ariz., during a car show, EAA said on Wednesday. It's not very often an airplane of this pedigree becomes available on the open market, according to
EAA. The airplane, NC9612, is one of only six in the world that is known to be airworthy. It has flown many different missions in several different mission configurations, including a stint as a
transport in Hawaii in the early 1940s, and was hit by bullets during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was fully restored in 2005, with a reworked airframe and an all-new interior. The fuselage
and wings were completely re-skinned. The landing gear is complete and original. A special buyer's preview and inspection is scheduled for Dec. 6 and 7 at Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport in North
Carolina. The airplane will not be on site at the January auction in Arizona.
For information on the auction process and bidder registration, contact Jamie Wiehe at Barrett-Jackson, 480-421-6694 or visit their Web
site. For more information about the airplane, contact Michele Overton at 336-262-9560. There is no set reserve on the aircraft, meaning it will be sold to the last and highest bidder, EAA
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With no parachute and no safety net, Eric Scott flew under jet-pack power across the 1,053-foot-deep Royal Gorge, in Colorado, on Monday. The 24-second flight carried him safely across the
1,500-foot-wide gorge to a gentle stand-up landing. Scott, 45, had previously flown the JetPack International system but never for
more than a few hundred yards. "I had no idea how fast I could get here, and I just found out," Scott said after landing. "The winds were blowing out there. I tell you, concrete never felt so good."
He has been piloting various forms of jetpacks for 16 years. The Jet-Pack device weighs about 135 pounds and carries about 33 seconds worth of hydrogen-peroxide fuel. The company developed it to be
used for stunts and promotional events. Click here to see a video of the flight, from The Denver Post.
Troy Widgery, founder of the company that sponsors the Jet Pack, told the Post that by sometime next year he expects to release a more user-friendly pack with three turbine jets that can fly for
It's springtime in Antarctica, and for the hundreds of researchers and support staff stationed there, it's the time when annual re-supply flights arrive, bringing much of the food, clothing, and
scientific supplies that are critical for operations. But before those flights can begin, an FAA Aviation Systems Standards team must go in and certify the navaids that help pilots land their aircraft
on the icy airfields at the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station America's primary Antarctic research center and other South Pole outposts. In the past, those crews have hitched
a ride on military C-130 transport planes. This year, however, the agency made history by flying a fully equipped FAA
Challenger 601 to the South Pole, and conducting the entire flight inspection on its own. "The cost of a C-130 is way more than one of the FAA jets," said mission pilot Bill Geiser. "Secondly,
whenever we used a C-130, it takes an airplane away from doing its primary mission of supplying the South Pole."
The first Challenger flight launched on October 18, when Geiser and two other pilots, one mission specialist, one mechanic, and one avionics technician took off from Christchurch, New Zealand, on
the last leg of their journey to McMurdo Station. They stayed for a week at McMurdo. With wind chills causing temperatures to plunge as low as -20 degrees Centigrade, maintenance crews worked around
the clock using portable military heaters to keep the airplane warm. "We really didn't want to let the airplane get cold-soaked," said Geiser, "because when seals get cold, you can run into
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Pilots who have some extra time over the holiday weekend might want to spend 45 minutes to improve their understanding of the weather and enhance their safety. The latest free course in the online Weather Wise series offered by AOPA's Air Safety Foundation addresses icing and precipitation, two
of the worst weather-related dangers pilots face. "An alarming number of pilots become accident statistics because too many of them underestimate the dangers of precipitation and icing," said Bruce
Landsberg, executive director of the ASF. "This course will remind them how to recognize the hazards... develop a strategy for avoidance, and react appropriately if and when they encounter unexpected
conditions." You must create an account to log on and take the course, but it's free and available to all pilots, not just AOPA members. Those who pass the quiz at the end can qualify for the FAA
Wings proficiency program.
And if you don't get to it this weekend, no problem; it will remain online indefinitely. Other courses available at ASF include programs on decision-making, navigating, using GPS, aerodynamics,
aircraft systems, weather, and more.
NASA is conducting a study using sophisticated imaging technology to track how blood flows in the brains of airline pilots as
they interact with the sophisticated electronic gear that clutters today's cockpits. "What we hope to achieve by this study is a way to sensitively -- and, ultimately, unobtrusively -- determine when
pilots become mentally overloaded," said Angela Harrivel, a NASA biomedical engineer who is leading the research project. "No matter how much training pilots have, conditions could occur when too much
is going on in the cockpit." Her project aims to determine the best methods for monitoring brain activity, as part of a study designed to help airplane pilots recognize when they are operating under
dangerous levels of stress, fatigue and distraction. The study employs functional near-infrared spectroscopy, also know as fNIRS, to measure blood flow in the brain's cortex and the concentration of
oxygen in the blood as the test subjects work in a full-motion flight simulator. This emerging technology offers a non-invasive, safe, portable and inexpensive method for monitoring indicators of
neural activity, according to NASA.
Researchers hope to find ways to improve the interaction between the increasingly sophisticated automation being used in aircraft and the humans who operate those aircraft. The goal is to aid pilot
decision-making and improve aviation safety. The project is taking place at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, with 15 pilot volunteers. "Flying an aircraft involves multitasking that
potentially can push the limits of human performance," Harrivel said. "When we increase stress and difficulty [in the simulator] we can see how the subject reacts, measuring brain activity during
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Eclipse Aviation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today and it appears ETIRC, the company controlled by current CEO Roel Pieper, is moving to consolidate its hold on the troubled planemaker.
According to a news release from Eclipse, the company is "seeking court approval for debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing and procedures for the sale of substantially all of its assets under Section
363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code." At the same time, it announced it has a buyer for the assets, described as "an affiliate of ETIRC Aviation S.a.r.l., Luxembourg" and that the deal is subject to
"higher offers." According to court documents filed by Eclipse in support of the petition, the company owes investors about $577 million and has racked up about $135 million in debt to vendors and
"In the face of unprecedented economic challenges, it is clear that the sale of the Eclipse business through the Chapter 11 process is the right course of action to maximize the value of the
business, secure its future and protect the best interests of Eclipse's stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, employees and creditors," Pieper is quoted as saying in a release. "The successful
sale will position the business for aggressive global expansion, allowing the company to fulfill its promise and solidify its position as the world's leading manufacturer of VLJs."
And to address the current cash crunch, Pieper has cut a deal with existing shareholders and lenders to keep the company alive in the interim. The company is asking the Delaware court, where the
petition was filed, to approve the interim financing package quickly so Eclipse can honor its commitments. Once approved, this financing, along with other relief requested from the court, will
position Eclipse to pay wages and salaries, honor employee benefits, service customer aircraft and continue manufacturing operations throughout the sale period.
The company also announced that Peg Billson, president and manager of the company, has resigned "to pursue other career opportunities."
About 500 production employees at Cirrus Design will be furloughed for about a month each as the company cuts production to clear
out built up inventory. Bill King, Cirrus's VP of Business Administration told AVweb in a telephone interview staff were told of the move on Tuesday. Only production employees are affected and not all
them will be off at the same time. Those at the beginning of the build cycle will be off first and will return first on Jan. 5. As the airplanes on the floor progress through completion, those farther
down the line will be furloughed as they complete their part of the process. Last to be furloughed will be the painters. Each worker will be off for about 30 days. "We don't want to add to the bad
economic news but we just think this is the prudent thing to do so we can hit 2009 hard," he said. King said the company is retaining all the workers and will be topping up their unemployment
insurance and paying medical and other benefits during the shutdown. King said the company is strong and its financial backers, Arcapita, are solidly behind Cirrus. "We're very well positioned and
the truth is that if we weren't well positioned we wouldn't be able to pay these benefits," he said.
Cirrus has trimmed its workforce twice in the last three months as sales have slowed. Company President Brent Wouters said the company is confident sales will rebound. "We are working diligently -
and making good progress - on rationalizing inventory levels, re-tooling the production line for greater product flexibility, and introducing new products - such as the new SR20 with Perspective, new
options and features to stimulate demand," he said. " Even so, we must make the sometimes difficult tactical decisions to match our overall production to the realities of the current market place."
The Vision SJ50 program is unaffected by layoffs and sales, customer service and other non-production departments will remain at work.
Ballistic Recovery Systems, which supplies the all-aircraft parachutes used by many manufacturers of general aviation and sport aircraft, said late last week that "in light of recent cutbacks from two of its major customers,"
about 25 percent of its workforce has been laid off. Most of the staff cuts were made at the BRS headquarters in South St. Paul, Minn. The company said the layoff may last several weeks to several
months, depending on when its customers see their own sales improve. "The ups and downs of the marketplace, especially with this most recent and current economic downturn, require us to make difficult
choices with regard to the labor component of our business," said BRS CEO and President, Larry Williams, in a news release. "The general aviation and sport aviation markets have taken a substantial
nosedive recently (off 18 percent this year) with a potential further erosion of sales through at least the 1st half of 2009." Williams noted that BRS has other customers from outside of aviation to
keep the company going, but nonetheless, "our core business lines are taking a substantial hit and we need to react proactively to this reality," he said. Cirrus Design and Flight Design are BRS's
major aviation customers, according to AOPA.
"We will make it through this downturn, of this I have no doubt, and realigning our workforce to this new environment is one component that is required." The company's overall sales are currently
strong, according to the news release, but BRS said it does not expect to be able to sustain its recent growth rate in light of the current downturn in the aviation business.
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Diamond Aircraft is advising its customers to continue fueling their diesel-powered aircraft with jet fuel in spite of a recommendation
from ExxonMobil to dealers to stop selling jet fuel to diesel aircraft owners. Diamond CEO Peter Maurer told AVweb he's unaware of any service issues that might have led the oil giant to issue
the letter sent to dealers last week. "It looks like they've come up with a solution to a problem that isn't there," Maurer said. He said he's in the process of arranging a conference call with
ExxonMobil officials to discuss the decision, which he said caught his company by surprise. "We're frankly a little perplexed," he said. Diamond is also sending a letter to customers outlining the
company's position. In the letter to fuel dealers, Martin Tippl, ExxonMobil's U.S. General Aviation Operations Manager, says the company has determined that jet fuel may not meet the technical
requirements for safe operation in piston engines and the company "does not support or endorse the supply of jet fuel to aircraft powered by diesel engines." The letter is posted on the Thielert Owners Group Web site. Dealers are asked to sign an agreement not to pump jet fuel into diesels. There is a provision for diesel
owners who insist on fueling with jet fuel, however. There's a waiver they can sign indemnifying ExxonMobil from liability if something goes wrong. "We're recommending [diesel aircraft owners] sign
the waiver and continue using jet fuel," Diamond's Maurer said.
ExxonMobil technical folks have determined that jet fuel and its processing misses the mark as a diesel fuel on three counts. Jet fuels are not tested for cetane, which is the determining factor in
the fuel's ability to ignite. There's also a fear that in extreme conditions jet fuel can cool to the point of becoming viscous and cause fuel-system problems. According to ExxonMobil, jet aircraft
fly fast enough that air friction over the wings warms the fuel enough to prevent those problems. ExxonMobil also claims that jet fuel might not have enough lubricating qualities to protect
fuel-system components. It also says the FAA is working with the fuel industry to determine if further certification action on diesel aircraft engines is required. Maurer noted that the Thielert
engines in his company's aircraft are specifically certified to use jet fuel only so he said he's not sure where that statement came from or why, in general, ExxonMobil has taken the action. "We don't
know what was driving this at ExxonMobil," he said. ExxonMobil did not immediately respond to AVweb's request for an interview.
The FAA said this week it will build an Aviation Research and Technology Park in
Atlantic City, N.J....
A homeowner in Collier County, Fla., allegedly attacked the operator of a remote-controlled airplane, hitting him in
the face and in the groin, after the airplane flew over the man's house...
A new blog, Tattoos in Flight, features an online gallery of aviation-themed works of tattoo artists...
The pilot of a Piper Navajo who ran into icing decided to land on a frozen lake rather than a
nearby airport, because the lake offered a longer surface.
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With a new administration preparing to take over in Washington next January, AOPA's incoming president, Craig Fuller, met with members of the Department of Transportation transition team on Monday to
press the case for GA. Fuller, along with AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy
Cebula, met with Mortimer Downey, head of the DOT transition team; Duane Woerth, former president of the Air Line Pilots Association (and touted as the next FAA administrator); and Jane Garvey, former
FAA administrator (and maybe the next Secretary of Transportation). Fuller told the team that priorities for general aviation pilots include quickly naming a well-qualified FAA administrator;
investing in aviation infrastructure; addressing proposed regulations that target aviation gasoline, emissions, and noise; modernizing the Air Traffic Control system without placing undue burdens on
GA aircraft owners; and ensuring that aviation taxes (not user fees) pay for the FAA.
Fuller also suggested that GA should be included in the new administration's economic stimulus package. Many airport projects could be ready to go as soon as funding was received, he said. Fuller
also recommended that the administration should delay the implementation of ADS-B until the aviation industry can develop an implementation plan that would benefit all users. He will take over Phil
Boyer's job at AOPA on Jan. 1.
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As Eclipse Aviation's biggest investor, CEO Roel Pieper has the most to lose in the company's collapse. Does that mean he's the right person to try and save it? AVweb's Russ Niles still has
high hopes for Eclipse's future, but in the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, he tries to wrap his head around the restructuring plan.
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This week, we stretch the definition of "FBO of the Week" just a tiny bit to allow for a nomination we couldn't resist. AVweb reader Abbott de Rham couldn't say enough about his
experience at Palmetto Aviation Repair on St. Simons Island, Georgia (SSI). While he gives
high marks to the local FBO (Golden Isles Aviation), it was his diehard praise of the team of PAR that made this nomination stand
We tried trimming Abbott's story down a bit, but the feeling of warmth and (quite appropriate) Southern hospitality is best appreciated in his blow-by-blow account of the visit:
It is May 22nd, the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, and I am over 800 miles from my Vermont home base. My family has travelled South in our 1957 182A, landing at a small island along the
Georgia coast about 25 miles north of St. Simons Island. It is late in the day, and the upper hinge of the pilot door has broken. I am able to get a hinge dropped-shipped from Cessna for overnight
delivery. (Thank you, Cessna, for supporting a 51-year-old aircraft.) I call Palmetto Aviation Repair at SSI and talk to Dan Lynch, the A&P on duty. The part will not arrive until later in the day
on Friday. Door disassembly and structural riveting will be required. The owner is already away for the holiday weekend, and everyone else in the area is ... heading for the exits. Dan graciously
offers to do the repair on Saturday and calls Chuck McKenney, an A&P with years of structural repair experience. Chuck also volunteers to come in on Saturday to lend his expertise. We have never
met, and this is all arranged on the phone. Already this feels right. The hinge arrives Friday, and first thing Saturday morning I pull up to the Palmetto Aviation Hangar. Dan is there, and we
begin disassembly and door removal. Chuck shows up for removing rivets and installing the the new hinge. It is my first experience watching pros buck rivets in very tight spaces. By the end of the
morning and less than 48 hours from a broken hinge, the plane is back together with its new parts. I take them out to lunch at the local landmark Barbara Jean's Restaurant.
Jim Barta is the owner and also a pilot. Upon hearing about [our] being stranded and then rescued by Dan and Chuck, he insists on picking up the tab for lunch! On Tuesday, I fly back to SSI to
settle up with Kirk Ramsey, the owner of Palmetto Aviation Repair. The total bill for Dan and Chuck's labor plus tools and rivets was embarrassingly low, to the point I added more against
Kirk's objections. Quality work, outside of regular hours, at on honest price you can't ask for more.
What could have been a complete disaster turned into a great experience. Kirk gets praise for hiring good people, supporting them, and pricing work more than fairly considering the circumstances.
Chuck said yes to being called in on a holiday weekend when he had better things to do. At the center of this story is Dan, who went far above the call of duty to open the shop on Saturday, come into
work to help out a guy he did not know, and to round up the additional expertise to ensure the job was done perfectly. Because of these guys, my vacation was barely interrupted, I've made new
friends, and I've found a top-notch shop for when I travel down South a few times each year.
The FBO, Golden Isle Aviation, is great too but this story is about the amazing service of Palmetto Aviation Repair. Travelers up and down the coast as well, as full and part-time residents
of the area should know there is [a] top-notch shop with great people located at SSI on St. Simons Island.
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 ***
Happy Thanksgiving, to those of you reading AVweb in the United States! Here at "POTW" world headquarters, we have plenty to be thankful for including the steady flow of
reader contributions that arrive in our inbox each week.
Speaking of photos that stick in your brain, this one from Larry Raulston of Neosho, Missouri certainly fits the bill. Pictured are Kyle
Franklin and Todd Green practicing their wing-walking routine. "I managed to be in just the right spot," writes Larry.
Ricky Barnard of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma delivers a photo that we'd have loved to get our hands on two years ago, when we were looking for
AWACS silhouettes to use in story. That story has long since faded into history, but the pic will live on in the form of desktop wallpaper around here ... .
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.
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
Click here to send a letter to the
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Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.
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version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.