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Companies of all kinds worldwide are feeling the impact of the current economic problems, but many of the smaller companies that build light sport aircraft and sell kit airplanes appear to be holding
their own. "New kit sales are down across the board, a little bit," Kitplanes editor Marc Cook told AVweb on Wednesday, while
acknowledging that the sector doesn't track hard numbers. "But nobody is really panicking," he added. He's noticed a "small uptick" in used homebuilt aircraft for sale, but he said it's nothing like
what's been happening in the GA market overall. "I think most kit aircraft are more affordable to operate, and also the owners have more emotional investment in the aircraft," he said. An owner who
has spent hundreds of hours building an airplane might fly less if cost becomes an issue, he said, but most are reluctant to part with their creations. Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association, told AVweb on Wednesday that he sees a similar situation in the LSA market. While sales have definitely
slowed, he said the smaller companies that build LSAs are better able to adapt to changes. "There's no market shakeout," he said. The annual Sebring LSA Expo is just six weeks away, and while a few companies have opted to conserve their cash and stay home, Johnson said, overall he expects a robust turnout for the show.
Also, he noted that one company who pulled out is Cirrus, which won't be there to promote their LSA this year. Cirrus said in
October it would slow down its LSA project for now, citing a lack of demand in the sector.
Johnson added that the Expo will reprise its Thursday night dinner this year, on Jan. 22, the opening night of the event, for exhibitors and the press. "Last year we had about 325 people there,
which makes it just about the biggest event there is in the LSA world," he said. Anyone who would like more info or to RSVP can contact email@example.com.
Aero Friedrichshafen, the European general aviation expo that has been growing fast in recent years, announced this week that next year's show, April 2-5, 2009, already is showing a
20-percent rise in exhibitor bookings over the last show, held in 2007. Starting next year, the show will be held every year, instead of every other year as in the past. "In these turbulent times, it
is evidently important for most [exhibitors] to maintain their marketing efforts in order to create a basis for future growth," said Thomas Grunewald, project manager for the show. The event includes
a wide range of aviation sectors, from parachuting and paragliding, ultralights, gliders and motorized gliders to single- and twin-engine piston aircraft and business jets. In 2009, the show will also
add helicopters and a green-flying exhibit. Grunewald said he is seeing a rising number of bookings from Eastern Europe, especially the
Czech Republic, as well as a sharp rise in interest from the U.S. In addition to many new exhibitors such as Hawker Beechcraft, he said he expects a significantly bigger presence from many returning
exhibitors, such as Cessna, Cirrus, Diamond, Embraer, Pilatus and Piper.
The green exhibits will include aircraft with electric motors, new solar technology, products by high-end battery manufacturers and innovative propulsion concepts.
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When Congress on Tuesday proposed that automakers would have to sell off their private jets as part of a bailout deal, the National Business Aviation Association was quick to respond. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent
late on Tuesday, NBAA President Ed Bolen expressed concern about the draft legislation, which "appears to prohibit the use of business aviation in ALL situations," Bolen wrote, "including when it is
the sole mode of transportation available to a business, or it is the most prudent and cost-effective solution to a given transportation challenge." The $15 billion bailout deal is still undergoing
intense negotiations between Congress and the White House, but pressure is high to resolve the issue quickly. Bolen argues, in essence, that the aviation sector shouldn't be made to suffer for the
errors of a few auto executives. "Business aviation is the most prudent and cost-effective transportation solution in a wide number of situations," he wrote. "While we understand the intent of
Congress to address a specific situation dealing with the auto industry, we believe that the broad wording of the provision could be misinterpreted as suggesting that Congress does not recognize the
critical importance of this mode of transportation to the success of U.S. businesses facing unprecedented international competition, the economic development of small towns and rural communities, and
the jobs of hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers."
In the two-page letter, Bolen lists the many advantages of aircraft to businesses of all sizes, and notes that 86 percent of passengers aboard business airplanes are not senior officials, but are
mostly mid-level workers, such as salespeople, engineers, and other technical specialists. He concludes, "We understand the importance of absolutely providing the American taxpayers with the strongest
assurances possible that any federal monies provided to the U.S. auto companies will be utilized to protect jobs and for positive structural reforms to the domestic industry. However, we again urge
you to craft this legislation in a manner which does not inadvertently harm another critical U.S. industry. We want to be careful not to hurt the ability of American companies to do the things that
allow them to keep people working and to compete." The $15 billion bailout is meant to keep the car companies afloat through March, allowing the incoming Obama administration a window of time to craft
a longer-term solution.
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It was a night flight, across a cold stretch of the Arctic so empty and dark that the two ferry pilots didn't know for sure if there was land or water or ice beneath them. But when both engines on
their Cessna 337 Skymaster failed on Sunday night, just south of Baffin Island in the north Atlantic, they had little choice but to radio for help, aim for the surface and hope for the best. The
airplane came to rest in the water, with one wing resting on an ice floe, and the two scrambled out of the windows onto the ice just before the airplane filled with water and sank -- taking with it
their life raft and emergency gear. They were wearing their survival suits, a precaution that likely saved their lives. Soon they heard search planes overhead, but with no flare guns or flashlights to
signal them, the aircraft flew right by. "We were on this ice sheet not having a clue if it would support our weight, hoping to death that it would," Oliver Edwards-Neil, 25, an Australian living in
Sweden, told the Sydney Morning Herald. With no food or water, no
shelter, and nowhere to sit, Edwards-Neil and his flying partner, Troels Hansen, 45, a Dane who also lives in Sweden, spent the long Arctic night standing on the ice and shivering as temperatures fell
to about 4 degrees below Zero. After more than 12 hours, when the sun crept above the horizon, the pair spotted land in the distance and began to head for it, hopping from ice floe to ice floe and
hoping to escape the notice of polar bears, when the crew of a shrimp boat, which had been fishing 180 miles away, turned up to rescue them. "They were happy to see the boat," ship captain Bo
Mortensen told the local media. "They were a little bit frostbitten on the feet, but they were in good shape." The Toronto Globe & Mail has a photo of the two lost pilots taken from the deck of
the rescue ship that simply must be seen; click here to view it.
We can't tell for sure, but we're betting there were big smiles of relief, and maybe a few tears, on both of those faces. The pilots had taken off in Labrador and were on their way to Europe. The
shrimp boat Atlantic Enterprise, based in Nova Scotia, traveled all night at maximum speed to reach the pair after receiving the mayday call.
A Marine F/A-18D based at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego, Calif., crashed at 11:59 a.m. local time in a residential neighborhood, destroying two homes and killing four on the
ground. The pilot and sole occupant ejected successfully. One home was thought to be unoccupied at the time of the crash, the other home contained four people -- a grandmother, a mother and two
children. The aircraft encountered a problem during training with the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and was returning to Miramar for landing, according to local news reports. The jet approached
Miramar MCAS from the west with a slight tailwind when it crashed nose-down less than 9000 feet shy of the longer Runway 06 Left, and north of the extended runway centerline. Witnesses reported
hearing two bangs followed by a larger earth-shaking explosion that many likened to an earthquake. Debris from the crash was resting on the residential street and strewn in neighborhood trees after
firefighters quenched flames. The crash site is about 1000 feet east of local high school buildings, 300 feet from school grounds and less than 200 feet from an uninhabited canyon, just beyond the
See AVweb's initial video coverage, including still images from the crash site edited together with
images from Google Earth and Google Maps.
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The breadth and depth of good works accomplished by general aviation pilots will be in the spotlight at AirVenture Oshkosh 2009, EAA announced
this week. A weeklong "Fly for Life" program at next summer's event will recognize those who fly to serve others. "Aviation is used to meet basic human needs and bring hope in so many ways, including
medical and dental missions to remote regions of the world, famine relief, and a wide range of other humanitarian projects," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman. "We are looking
forward to recognizing those people and organizations during EAA AirVenture 2009." The Fly for Life program will highlight public-benefit aviation activities and mission-based flight operations, with
EAA working with the Air Care Alliance and the International
Association of Missionary Aviation to represent more than 200 organizations. Activities will include a major display adjacent to AeroShell Square, aircraft displays, numerous forums and
presentations, an evening program, and other events. AirVenture 2009 will be held July 27-Aug. 2, at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis.
Although many humanitarian organizations have been longtime participants at EAA AirVenture, the Fly for Life program marks the first time all these public-benefit and mission flight organizations
have come together to highlight the ways that general aviation serves people worldwide. "There is an incredible story to tell of the hundreds of airplanes and thousands of dedicated people, including
many, many EAA members, who generously devote themselves to using their flying abilities to make our world a better place," said former EAA vice president Bob Warner, who is serving as the program's
volunteer chairman. "This is a story that we want to share not only with the aviation community at EAA AirVenture, but to the public that does not always understand the depth of aviation's
contribution to our world." Groups interested in participating may contact Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org. The schedule of activities will be announced as it is finalized.
Australia has always been a popular destination for pilots in search of a flying vacation, and with so many vast open spaces to explore, flying a general aviation aircraft is hands-down the best way
to see the continent. Now with a popular new movie, Baz Luhrmann's Australia, out in theaters, and a favorable exchange rate (right
now, $100 U.S. will buy about $150 Australian), Australia is likely to be a top choice for flying vacationers in 2009. A new trip offered by Air Adventure Australia takes eight travelers around the continent for two weeks as passengers in their own private twin-engine aircraft, with a professional photographer along to
offer tips on getting the best pictures of your trip. "The Australian landscape is truly magical, and by plane is the perfect way to experience it, especially with a tour like this that visits so much
of the best of Australia in a short time frame," said John Dyer, tour leader with Air Adventure Australia. Pilots can also book tours that allow them to fly on their own with Australian Air Safaris, which offers a wide variety of tours flying single-engine Cessnas, from the Outback to wineries to the Great
If the exchange rate continues to favor the U.S., Australia also might prove an economical place to seek out flight training. An article from National Geographic Adventure a few years ago tells about one student pilot's
experience taking his initial flying lessons in the Outback.
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A 737-800 operated by Continental Airlines will be the first air-carrier aircraft from North
America to fly on biofuels when a demonstration flight takes off from Houston on Jan. 7. Continental said on Monday that the flight, which will be operated with no passengers, will be powered by a
special blend of 50 percent jet fuel and 50 percent components derived from algae and from jatropha plants. These sustainable, second-generation fuel sources don't impact food crops or water resources
and don't contribute to deforestation, according to Continental. The demo flight will be the first by a commercial carrier using algae as a fuel source, and the first using a two-engine aircraft. The
Boeing 737-800 is equipped with CFM International CFM56-7B engines. Developers of algae-based fuels have formed the Algal Biomass
Organization, based in Seattle, which recently held a conference in Seattle. It's possible to grow algae anywhere, according to the Tacoma News-Tribune. Algae can flourish in saltwater, freshwater or brackish water. Virgin Atlantic carried out
the world's first flight of a commercial aircraft powered with biofuel in February, using fuel made with coconut and babassu oils.
Negligence charges against the U.S. pilots involved in Brazil's worst air disaster have been dropped, but they still face other charges for allegedly contributing to the accident...
FAA granted certification for WAAS LPV on a Bombardier Challenger 604 aircraft equipped with Rockwell Collins'
upgraded Flight Management System and GPS-4000S global positioning system WAAS receiver...
Record world flight to raise funds for ALS research nears its finish...
Two flight students and their instructors died when their aircraft collided above the Everglades in Florida on Saturday...
A new book for children leads them through aviation's phonetic alphabet, aimed at inspiring girls ages 2 to 8 to develop
an interest in flying...
A judge has blocked the planned slot auctions for New York City area
Canada's Transportation Safety Board is again calling for tighter regulations on commercial balloon operations after releasing report on a fiery hard landing near Winnipeg in 2007. The TSB would like regulations in place
before the coming ballooning season.
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Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips
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Embraer's entry-level Phenom 100 jet has been certified in Brazil, and U.S. certification is expected shortly, according to a company news release. The $3.6 million aircraft emerged from certification
testing with a top speed of 390 knots, 10 knots faster than expected, and an overall fuel consumption 3.6 percent less than predicted. Its range and takeoff numbers have also improved. "I am thrilled
to announce that the Phenom 100 has not only met all original specification targets, but has also surpassed several performance goals," said Carlos Affonso, executive vice president of Executive
Jets for Embraer. The certification came a few days after another milestone in the company's methodical plan to become a force in business aviation.
The groundbreaking, complete with the obligatory photo of dignitaries in hardhats holding shovels, took place as the so-called Space Coast grapples with the pending job losses associated with the
end of the Space Shuttle program. About 200 people will be employed at the plant, which will encompass four buildings at the Melbourne International Airport. In the past year, Embraer has established
a network of parts and service centers and the customers have already been trained on the Phenom, with its G1000-based Prodigy glass panel.
Piper Aircraft, in Vero Beach, Fla., is not immune to the market pressures that have been bearing down on the GA industry, and this week the company said it has instituted a reduced work schedule for
some departments. "Our efforts are designed to maintain as many jobs (and associated benefits) as possible," Piper spokesman Mark Miller wrote to AVweb via e-mail on Tuesday. "We remain
concerned about the turmoil and volatility in the world's financial markets," Miller added. "In accordance with normal seasonality and softening market demand, Piper continually assesses and adjusts
its workforce and schedule." The company normally shuts down briefly around the holidays, he said, and this year will close most departments for three weeks. According to the Palm Beach Post, in recent years the holiday shutdown has been only one or two weeks
long. Although the company has not announced any layoffs or staff cuts, one worker told the local TCPalm news site that her job was eliminated, along with about 20 others.
Meanwhile, a recent report from PMI Media in the United Kingdom predicts that the current economic turmoil will have a dramatic
impact on the VLJ market. "Prospects for the very light jet (VLJ) market for the next 10 years (2008 to 2017) have declined sharply over the last few weeks," PMI said last week. "Given the current
difficult market circumstances it is difficult to see how more than one or two new aircraft entrants -- outside established aircraft manufacturers such as Embraer, Diamond, PiperJet, Cessna -- will be
able to survive a prolonged period of market uncertainty," said PMI-Media's editorial director Philip Butterworth-Hayes.
In its latest study, "The Very Light Jet Market 2008-2017: The impact of the global financial crisis", which was released after the announcement by Eclipse Aviation that it had filed for
bankruptcy, PMI Media is forecasting the delivery of 4,610 VLJs, worth around $9.54 billion in 2008 prices, between 2008-2017. This is some 1,360 fewer aircraft than in the previous forecast released
in October 2008. PMI tracks the VLJ market through analyzing supplier order backlogs and purchasing trends by air-taxi, corporate and individual aircraft operators.
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz? Reporting on breaking news,
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An F/A-18 Hornet crashed about 9,000 feet shy of Runway 06L at MCAS Miramar, in a residential neighborhood near San Diego, California, Monday December 8, 2008 at approximately 11:59
a.m. local time. This initial report was published by Glenn Pew the day of the crash with the information available at that time.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Don Davis Aviation at Henderson County Airport (KEHR) in Henderson,
AVweb reader George Samara recommended this week's winner, writing:
This airport team goes out of their way to please and accommodate a visiting pilot ... [everyone from] the girls on the desk, Christa and Sarah ... [to] the manager, Nancy, who stay[ed] late one
evening to make sure my passenger got his rental car through the security gate to load equipment and to make sure we got off OK ... [to. the line personnel ... [who] help[ed] chock and tie down the
plane. They volunteered to put the plane into a heated hanger when it iced up overnight and did not charge for it! This FBO makes you feel inportant and well taken care of, including a well-equipped
flight-planning room with a personal computer to use!
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Find an Unusual Gift for Any Pilot and All Aviation Enthusiasts Build A Plane announces its annual fund-raising eBay auction. For sale: lunch with New Piper CEO James Bass, Patty Wagstaff's flight suit, a B-25 bomber ride, Eclipse 500 jet stick time, a
Honeywell AV8OR MFD, a 1949 A35 Beechcraft Bonanza, and so much more. Items start as low as a few dollars. All sales will benefit the Build A Plane program.
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 ***
After a couple weeks of flagging submissions, it seems everyone is making time to send us great photos, despite the hectic schedule brought on by the holidays. Thanks for thinking of
us this week but we're a little greedy when it comes to great pics, so we hope you'll remember us next week, too!
Mark Reed of Seattle, Washington claims the top spot this week, with a photo that let's be honest has some shortcomings. Yes, it's
hard to find the plane in there but that's the point of Mark's shot! He writes:
[I] shot this from my Glasair Sportsman, of my friends Steven and Allan Reese exploring the Columbia Glacier in Alaska this summer. Thankfully the engine-out landing options were better
than the long lens makes it appear, but it was hardly the ideal landscape to be easily seen with a white-and-blue paint job.
Still skeptical of our choice for this week's top spot? Put it to the same test we did: Set it as your desktop wallpaper and see if you can take your eyes off it. It's a lot of
white, but one gorgeous photo ... .
David Lippincott of San Diego, California snapped this during his summer '02 trip to Kitty Hawk. (He too found it a nice touch that he brought his
own aircraft the birthplace of flight.)
While we're on the subject, David also submitted a photo of an airplane that's being used as a patio decoration in Taiwan. He'd like to know what it is, and tells us the Smithsonian
wasn't able to make a positive ID but maybe you can! View it here, and if you can positively ID it, tell us here. updated with a link to the correct image!
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.