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Cirrus Design CEO Alan Klapmeier and Mike Van Staggen, vice president for advanced development, briefed the press on Wednesday on the status of the Vision single-engine jet program, and revealed new details and updates about the design. Klapmeier stressed that the jet is aimed directly at the personal-transportation niche, not
the corporate or air-taxi segments, and the needs of that market strongly drive the design decisions that are being made as the program evolves. Test pilots have put about 120 hours on the aircraft,
and so far the jet is performing as expected. The entire CG envelope has been checked, in-flight engine re-starts were done, and stall tests are under way. Aerodynamic design is being tweaked, with
the help of computer models, to improve performance, and the angle of thrust on the engine has been adjusted, with significant results. For the production version of the jet, the right side door will
be eliminated, to reduce weight, and an emergency egress hatch will be added. An illustration of the production version shows the nose will be slightly sharper and the belly a bit roomier. The
wing-root fairing has been adjusted, and the tail sweep reduced. A larger ventral fin is about to be tested, and a dual fin might also be tested, Van Staggen said. Maximum payload will be 1,200
pounds, with 400 pounds available with full fuel. Klapmeier said the trade-off of fuel and weight took into account input from customers who say they will often fly alone and were willing to trade off
payload to carry more fuel. The jet will fly about 1,100 nm at max cruise of 300 knots.
While overall the tone was upbeat and positive, Klapmeier was realistic about the state of the economy. "The fourth-quarter reports when they come out in January are not going to be good," he said,
referring to the industry-wide data reported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The first quarter of 2009 isn't going to be good either, he said, but beyond that, nobody really knows
how long the downturn will last. "There's a crisis of confidence right now, but we're excited about the future, and optimistic going forward," he said. He added that he was disturbed by the recent
criticism of auto executives for traveling in corporate jets, and said the industry needs to do a better job of educating the public about the practical value of GA. The Cirrus production workers who
have been furloughed for December will retain their company benefits and return in January, he said. Meanwhile, Cirrus is still looking to fill a few positions on the jet team, and no layoffs are
expected there, although the pace of development is likely to slow a bit as the company keeps an eye on the economic situation. "We're not ramping up as fast as we were," Klapmeier said. No decisions
have yet been made on a production facility for the jet, and that announcement is still at least a year or more away.
Klapmeier said his team plans to submit an application to the FAA for a type certificate in about two weeks, but they will hold off on seeking EASA certification because aircraft in the Vision
jet's weight class are subject to high user fees in Europe's air traffic system. He also noted that the training requirements for pilots will be built right into the TC, a strategy that was also
followed by Eclipse. This gives the "force of law" to the training regimen, "so you're not legal to fly it without meeting those requirements," Klapmeier said. A mentor pilot program for low-time
pilots will be part of the requirements. The base price for the jet, now at about $1 million, is sure to change by the time it reaches the market, which will be sometime after 2011 or 2012, but
Klapmeier said he hopes to keep the price in that general ballpark. "We can't predict inflation, and we don't know yet when we will be done," he said, so he can't be more precise about what the
ultimate market price will be.
A recording of the first 43 minutes of the press briefing is now posted online, including graphics, performance charts, and a
couple of videos -- although at our deadline, the videos weren't working for us, but maybe you'll have better luck.
Cessna on Monday notified over 500 workers that they have 60 days left to work, then they will be out of
a job. The jobs are being eliminated at Cessna's plants in Wichita, Kan., and in Bend, Ore., where the Cessna 350 and 400 are built at the former Columbia plant. An additional 150 workers chose
voluntary layoff packages. The company said last month the staff cuts would be necessary because some customers have deferred delivery for 2009, so the expected rate of production will have to be
slowed. Cessna employs about 12,000 people in Wichita and about 420 in Bend. Hawker Beechcraft also recently announced a cut of 490 people, about 5 percent of its workforce; and Piper said it will reduce
its workweek to save the company money but retain jobs. Mooney laid off staff last month, and Cirrus also announced
layoffs in September, affecting about 8 percent of its workers.
Introducing AV8OR from Bendix/King by Honeywell
The AV8OR is the portable and affordable GPS built specifically for pilots, by a company that knows pilots. With navigation routing, planning and weather information for the aircraft and the
automobile, the AV8OR uses aviation software and symbology pilots understand. Its 4.3-inch touch screen is larger and easier to read than competing GPS systems, with an intuitive interface
derived from the pilot-friendly, panel-mounted Bendix/King multi-function display systems.
information, go online.
With lots of changes ahead for key Washington offices that affect general aviation, staffers from AOPA are busy working to ensure that the new
appointees know exactly what GA pilots are concerned about. "We're meeting with members of the transition team and preparing briefing papers to be sure that the new administration is aware of our
concerns and priorities," Andy Cebula, AOPA's executive vice president for government affairs, told AVweb on Wednesday. President-elect Barack Obama's choices for secretary of transportation
and FAA administrator will have a big effect on the political and regulatory climate in which pilots will fly for the next four years. Cebula said he expects the DOT position will be filled later this
month, but the FAA slot may take longer. He also said that with changes ahead for the Department of Homeland Security, he's hopeful that the much-maligned Large Aircraft Security Program, which currently is a proposed rule, will be modified substantially or perhaps
scrapped altogether. "There's hope there for dramatic change," he said. However, he noted that GA is far down the list of DHS concerns, and it may be some time before Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano,
who has been nominated to be the new DHS Secretary, finds time to address GA matters. He also noted that in meetings with the transition team, AOPA has made clear that user fees are the number-one
issue for GA pilots.
"We also made clear what we hope to see in the new FAA administrator," he said. "Somebody who's a pilot would be great. And we'd like to see somebody who could bring all of aviation together --
airlines and GA -- to encourage more discussion and interaction." He said AOPA also is lobbying for money in the expected economic stimulus package to go to improving infrastructure at GA airports and
developing more WAAS approaches.
Commissioners in Clark County, Nev., on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to their local director of aviation to lobby for federal legislation that would enable him to ban experimental aircraft from local
airports. The effort is in response to the crash of a homebuilt Velocity near North Las Vegas Airport in August. The airplane struck a house, killing the pilot and two people on the ground. Ian Gregor, spokesman for the FAA Western-Pacific
Region, released the following statement in reaction to Tuesday's meeting: "We believe Congress acted wisely in giving the FAA sole authority over civilian airspace throughout the United States. It
would cause tremendous disruption -- even chaos -- to air traffic operations nationwide if every local community were allowed to arbitrarily decide which aircraft could and could not land at local
airports." EAA's Earl Lawrence, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, gave the proposal little chance of succeeding.
"You would be allowing an airport manager to determine on his own what could come and go," he said. "What he is asking is
that Congress, the President, and the administration give up the authority. That's a pretty good stretch." Nonetheless, Lawrence said his team is prepared to roll out strong opposition if such a
proposal should make its way to the Hill.
Aircraft Spruce Your Holiday Buying Source
In Aircraft Spruce's Pilot Supplies web site section are gift selections sorted by price and product type to help with your holiday purchases. View in dollar increments for gifts from
$30 to $500. View based on product type for a wide selection, including desk pen sets, headsets, clocks, mugs, apparel, games, key chains, and much more. Gift-wrapping service is available for
only $4.50. Call Aircraft Spruce at 1 (877) 4-SPRUCE or
A researcher at the University of Akron in Ohio says he may have found a way to suppress potentially damaging hurricanes -- send in a couple of F-4 fighter jets to fly supersonic loops around its eye
while it's still at sea, and the resulting sonic booms will break it apart. A patent application filed by Prof. Arkadii
Leonov and his colleagues states that "two F-4 jet fighters flying at approximately Mach 1.5 are sufficient, [in theory], to suppress, mitigate and/or destroy a typical-sized hurricane or typhoon."
The airplanes must follow a specifically designed trajectory, so as their wake propagates downward it both counteracts the hurricane's rotation and increases the air pressure near the eye of the
storm. "This creates high-level local disturbances that can eliminate, reduce and/or mitigate a major rotational aspect of a hurricane/typhoon, thereby disrupting and/or eliminating the functioning of
such a weather feature," says the patent application. One scenario shows the two aircraft flying an elliptical track about 200 miles long, intercepting the eye of the storm and spiraling down into it
until fairly close to the ocean surface.
The sonic booms have the potential to be very efficient at this task, and the flight would not cause any harm to the jets or pilots, the application says. "There are plenty of sites along typical
hurricane paths that are in the international waters where the jet supersonic booms could be generated in order to confirm that such booms destroy hurricanes," the application states. The sonic-boom
theory is far from the first suggestion for finding mechanical means to suppress hurricanes. The Hurricane Research Division of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory lists a series
of proposals, from seeding the storms with silver iodide, to cooling them off with icebergs, to exploding nuclear bombs. "As carefully reasoned as some of these suggestions are, they all share the
same shortcoming," says Chris Landsea, at the AOML Web site. "They fail to appreciate the size and power of tropical
Pilots who are trying to catch some sleep between shifts on the Emirates Airbus A380 have complained that noise from the cabin keeps waking them up, because the airplane itself is so quiet they can
hear all the crying babies and flushing toilets. "We're getting a lot of complaints. It's not something we expected," Emirates spokesman Ed Davidson told Flight International. "On our other
aircraft, the engines drown out the cabin noise. [On the A380] the pilots sleep with earplugs but the cabin noise goes straight through them." The problem is most noticeable on the Emirates A380s
because they chose to put the crew-rest area at the back of the main cabin, while Singapore Airlines and Qantas have placed it right behind the cockpit. Extra insulation is not a solution because it
would add extra weight, Davidson said. The airline may experiment with lightweight noise generators that would create ambient sound to mask the cabin noise, according to Flight International.
For passengers, the quiet can also be disconcerting, as they can overhear conversations of others seated nearby. But at least in first class, the Emirates passengers have plenty of distractions --
hot showers, a well-stocked bar, fully reclining sleeper seats, and personal 17-inch video screens with over 1,200 entertainment channels to choose from.
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On Tuesday, Ford Motor Company said it will sell all five of its corporate jets, and General Motors said it
will sell off the leases on its fleet. "We don't use them that much anyway," GM spokesman Mike Meyerand told
ABCNews. "It saves us a lot of money to get out of this business." The companies also are hoping the move will regain some of the PR ground lost when they flew via private jet to Washington last month, hats in hand, looking for government bailouts. Executives at Ford and GM also said
that when they appear before Congress this week, they will make the 500-mile trip from Detroit by car.
Executives at Chrysler, the third of the Big Three automakers, also said they'll leave the corporate jet at home this week and make alternate travel plans.
An effort to develop an environmentally acceptable supersonic business jet by a group led by Dassault continued last week. Russia Info Center says a model of the HISAC Environmentally
Friendly High Speed Aircraft is undergoing testing at Russia's Central Institute of Aerohydronyamics. Engineers are looking at the aerodynamics and potential sonic boom signature of the
eight-to-16-seat aircraft, which, in its test stage, sports a canard that make it look like a sleeker, smaller version of the XB-70 supersonic bomber of 45 years ago.
But where the XB-70's purpose was anything but environmentally friendly, HISAC hopes to help people go faster without expanding their carbon footprint. Goals for the aircraft include minimal sonic
boom, no more noise on landing and takeoff than current aircraft of the same size and multi Mach fuel economy rivaling its subsonic cousins. There's no prediction on when the consortium, involving 37
companies in 13 countries, will have a flying model.
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/.
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.
Amid all the economic doom and gloom, we're glad to serve you a helping of upbeat positive news. First, Aircraft Spruce said this week that
its sales at last month's AOPA Expo in San Jose, Calif., were its best ever in 20 years at the show, with a dramatic increase over 2007. "We were very pleased with the attendance at Expo and the
enthusiasm and optimism we saw among general aviation pilots," said Aircraft Spruce President Jim Irwin. "Sales were brisk across all product lines at the show, and were especially strong among the
latest portables, such as the Garmin GPSMAP 696 and the Honeywell AV8R GPS." The latest Garmin gizmo has pilots excited, you can check it out in detail via our recent AVweb video. Also, more positive news this week from Build A Plane, the folks who collect ragged old
airplanes and unfinished projects and give them a new mission teaching school kids about aviation. They have just launched this year's fundraising auction on eBay. Items up for bid include stick time in an Eclipse 500 jet, Patty Wagstaff's flight suit, a ride in a B-25 bomber, a Honeywell AV8TOR MFD and even a
1949 classic Model A35 Beechcraft Bonanza.
All the money raised goes directly to support efforts to promote general aviation and education. BAP solicits aircraft donations then redirects those aircraft free of charge to high schools across
the country. Students build or refurbish real airplanes and learn science, math, technology and engineering along the way. Close to 100 aircraft so far have been donated to kids across the
XCOR Aerospace is now selling tickets for flights into space, for $95,000 each...
Pilots CarolAnn Garratt and Carol Foy launched their world flight record attempt on Tuesday, raising money for ALS
research. Click here for a recent AVweb podcast about the flight...
The National Business Aviation Association launched a redesigned Web site on Tuesday, with a new look and enhanced navigation...
Teachers in Space has extended its deadline till Dec. 4, for K-12 teachers interested in developing space education programs
and flying in space.
Business Executives! Mark Your Calendars for February 3 & 4, 2009 in London, England Active Communications' Efficiency in Aviation forum will provide a unique platform for senior aviation executives to discover, consider and discuss innovative management,
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We talk about GA outreach as much as anyone (maybe more), but this Thanksgiving, AVweb Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli put his money where his mouth is by parading up and down the street
dressed as well, check out the AVweb Insider blog for the photo.
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Last week, we asked AVweb readers what they would recommend for embattled jet-maker Eclipse Aviation.
Nearly half of you (43% of those who responded) thought it would be best if an established company bought Eclipse. The next most popular answer was it should be liquidated
and sold to the highest bidder, which garned 21% of the responses.
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 ***
Two of the Big Three automakers are now selling off their flight departments in response to the
Capitol Hill P.R. disaster the auto industry suffered when CEOs arrived for potential bailout hearings aboard private bizjets.
Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to
NOTE: 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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On Oct. 29, Ric Lee sent us an amazing, actually unbelievable, video of an aerobatic airplane losing a wing in flight and landing successfully. We were initially amazed, then became
skeptical, and finally, in our AVweb Insider blog, explained some of the reasons this dramatic
video could be nothing more than an (ultimately very successful) attempt to create a viral video that flashes the name of a skateboarder clothing line in front of millions of viewers.
Trouble is, people by the dozens keep sending us the video and urging us to present it on our site. Our video editor, Glenn Pew, spent
some time illuminating the glaring shortcomings of this admittedly clever hoax and put them together in a single video. We should have thought of this a month ago ... .
Diamond Aircraft Raffle: Great Gift Idea for the Pilot Who Has Everything!
Win a Diamond Star DA40 XLS! Only 5,000 tickets will be sold to benefit Wings of Dreams, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Help Wings of Dreams complete their aviation museum and
warbird restoration facilities at Keystone Heights Airport, Florida (42J). Target drawing date (if 5,000 tickets are sold) is February 22, 2009. Void where
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips
via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
(The results will be used in an upcoming Aviation Consumer article on managing your maintenance. For subscription information, click
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We've heard quite a few nice things about Batten Airport recently, but one of the earliest comments came from AVweb reader A. M. Radel, who wrote:
The fantastic service that I experienced at KRAC should be used as a benchmark for every FBO across the U.S. The professionalism and low fuel prices made me a believer that there is still pride and
personal care in aviation companies. Don't be foolish and overlook this FBO if [you are] able [to visit them]!
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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Makes the perfect holiday gift!
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 ***
If you submit a photo and don't see it here in the weekly "POTW" round-up, don't be discouraged! We get more pics each week than we could possibly run here or in our home
page slideshow and some of our favorite submitters are people whose names keep cropping up, week after week and month after month, without ever getting to shine in the spotlight. If that
sounds like a good description of you, at least take a little consolation in the fact that you've brightened up our week especially the 3 a.m. parts where nothing seems to be going right, and
our only recourse is to roll up our sleeves, grit our teeth, look at a few reader photos, and dive back in.
In other words, we were remiss when we didn't say it last week: Thanks for the photos. Your pics are still our favorite bit of putting together AVweb.
Tim O'Connor and his wife Connie (of Batavia, Ohio) are continuing to enjoy their SkyBoy, their camera, and their seemingly very flexible work
schedules. We're adding Tim to the list of "POTW" contributors we'd like to swap places with, just for a day ... .
Now here's a GA booster who isn't living the "fly around under beautiful sunrises and take pictures" lifestyle. Victor Pallotto of
Passaic, New Jersey reminds us that getting involved in flying isn't all glitz and glamour but it's still fun.
Gary J. Hebbard of St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada) writes, "I recently spotted this aircraft model ([or maybe it was a] weather vane?)
mounted outside a rural home." He goes on to confess: "PhotoShop helped me get rid of the pole it was mounted on."
You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. Head on over there now. (We'll still be here when you get
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
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.