AVwebFlash - Volume 15, Number 1a

January 5, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Smart Safety ... Leave Anxiety Out of Your Flight Plan
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Top News: New Year, New AOPA Chief back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

New AOPA President Craig Fuller Steps In For Boyer

On Dec. 31, 2008, Phil Boyer stepped down as AOPA's third president and handed the reins of the general aviation advocacy group to incoming president, Craig Fuller, who spoke of the challenges and opportunities he sees ahead. Fuller has already met with the Obama administration's transition team and written the incoming president to express AOPA's eagerness to work with the president-elect toward the goals of modernizing air traffic control, seeking long-term financing of the aviation infrastructure, addressing environmental issues and managing aviation security. "Aviation is an integral part of this country's infrastructure, and economy," Fuller wrote to Obama, "and I can assure you that AOPA is ready to work with you on the pressing issues facing the aviation industry." Fuller steps into his office committed to AOPA's support of passenger ticket taxes and general aviation fuel excise taxes in the place of a proposed user-fee system as a source of funding for the FAA.

He has urged the Obama team to select an FAA Administrator who has both technical and labor-relations skills together with an understanding of the aviation industry and political savvy. He's also urging the development of a specific plan to define the benefits, equipment needs and goals of a NextGen system to facilitate its acceptance in the general aviation community and thereby facilitate its implementation. But Fuller is also aware that he is taking the reigns in the midst of a 30-year slide in the number of active pilots. AOPA "is determined to reverse" the downward trend in the pilot population. The organization says it "has committed millions of dollars to do so, with or without government or industry support." Currently, the centerpiece of those efforts is AOPA's Let's Go Flying web site.

Related Content:
Late last year, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli sat down with then incoming AOPA president Craig Fuller for a video interview. Meet AOPA's new boss here.

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Bright Spots in a Cloudy Economy back to top 

Cirrus Goes Back To Work, Suppliers Too

Cirrus Design Corp. begins production Monday after a month-long winter hibernation prompted by slow sales. The company's awakening means 500 furloughed employees will gradually be recalled and that means suppliers will soon be stirring in their dens as well. The ramp-up is not expected to be light-switch quick, but rather will take some time. Cirrus is capable of producing 16 aircraft per week, but the company has its sights set at half of that to reflect current market conditions. Cirrus suppliers were hit hard by the company's work stoppage, but some have used the downturn to diversify. Cirrus plans to recall each of 165 workers to its Grand Forks facility, and about 265 of 335 to its Duluth facility by the end of the week. The company provided insurance benefits for its workers throughout its month-long shutdown and "offered supplemental pay to complement unemployment," according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Moving forward, the company plans to remain nimble in adjusting its workforce capacity, making changes as demand requires. Cirrus suppliers will lag behind, slightly. One Cirrus component manufacturer, Northstar Aerospace, will bring its workforce back to 40 percent over the first months of the year. Another, SCS Aircraft Interiors, recently invested more than $2.5 million to install a facility in Duluth and relies on Cirrus for 75 percent of its business. Cirrus' return to production is essential to SCS' viability.

Pratt & Whitney Bullish On Geared Turbofan

Twenty years in development, the new geared turbofan engine from Pratt & Whitney is currently nearing the completion of tests and the company sees big things in its future. The engine is designed to cut fuel burn by 12 percent, compared to the most modern engines currently available, and should be scalable. "We see the geared turbofan concept playing out for the whole future family of engines," Pratt & Whitney President Steve Finger recently told Reuters. Pratt hopes that after 2013 the engines will find a broad range of applications, beginning with upcoming regional jet aircraft from Bombardier and Mitsubishi and scaling up to produce more than 95,000 pounds of thrust. "Whatever happens" said Finger, "we don't believe anyone can bring anything that can compare with a geared turbofan for a long time."

Pratt expects to experience single-digit growth in 2009, and with geared turbofan tests due to complete in the near future, the company's new product may soon find favor with more airframe manufacturers. The near-term hurdle is convincing those manufacturers of gearing's long-term reliability. According to Finger, gearbox durability is not a significant issue and is not even within the top ten causes of in-flight shutdown or problems with reliability. Bombardier expects to be flying examples of the engines on its CSeries aircraft in 2013 and that line of aircraft may become the proving ground that stimulates the currently dormant interests of Boeing and Airbus.

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Facts and Figures back to top 

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report On Connell Crash

The NTSB has released its preliminary report on the Piper Turbo Saratoga crash on approach to Akron-Canton airport Dec. 19, 2008, that killed Michael Connell, Republican media consultant and chief IT consultant for Karl Rove. The crash ignited the minds of conspiracy theorists aware that Connell had been subpoenaed for expert testimony regarding alleged electronic voter fraud in 2004, and amid one report by a CBS affiliate that Connell had been warned his plane might be sabotaged. The NTSB's early findings are subject to change and may contain errors but state that "no anomalies were noted with the flight control system that would have precluded normal operation." The report notes that damage to the propeller is consistent with a power-on impact and the landing gear was extended. The NTSB found that the instrument-rated Connell had received radar vectors that provided an intercept to the ILS approach for Runway 23, about two miles from the outer marker. The report states that, as the plane was inbound from the outer marker, "ATC advised [the aircraft] that it was left of course." After that, things -- including already poor weather conditions -- got progressively worse.

Connell responded to ATC with "correcting." The report states he was at that time still flying the 3,200-foot intermediate segment altitude for the approach. ATC then advised the pilot he was "well left of the localizer" and asked the pilot if he would like to be resequenced. The pilot responded with "like to correct" and at 2.5 miles from the airport asked to execute a 360-degree turn. Weather at the airport at this time was deteriorating. It was reported two minutes prior to the crash as visibility 9 miles, broken at 500 and overcast at 1,000 with a two-degree temperature/dewpoint spread hovering near freezing. Approximately 15 minutes after the crash, visibility had dropped to 2 1/2 miles in mist with overcast at 400 and 1,000. While flying the approach, Connell had inquired about reports of icing and ATC responded it had none. After requesting the 360-degree turn, ATC directed the aircraft to climb and maintain 3,000 feet. Connell responded, providing confirmation and a heading, then declared an emergency. A witness saw the aircraft descend out of the clouds in a nose-down attitude with the engine "roaring" and lost visual contact when the plane descended below the tree line. The trail of wreckage was about 290 feet long. Connell earned his private certificate in 2006, held an instrument rating, and had a total reported flight time of 510 hours.

Analyst: Boeing, Airbus May Lose Most Of Their Order Backlogs

Currently sitting on more than five years worth of unfilled orders, both Airbus and Boeing may hope that backlog could carry them through even a moderately prolonged economic slump, but orders on paper don't always become flying aircraft and at least one analyst sees much less certainty than the order books suggest. The Teal Group's Richard Aboulafia believes the possibility exists that as much as 70 percent of more than 7400 total orders held by Boeing and Airbus will become order deferrals instead of aircraft. A global economic crisis coupled with erratic fuel prices throws a big wrench into the engine of just about every kind of air travel and as airlines around the world struggle to direct their fleets toward profitability the most expedient solution for some may be a rollback of expansion plans.

Together, the two companies in 2007 set an industry record of 2,754 orders. For 2008, the combined tally looks like it won't pass much over 1,500. Some carriers may need to replace aging aircraft or seek to put newer, more efficient aircraft into service in the place of older, less efficient models. But, lacking a competitive market interested in their older jets, it's possible even those carriers will elect to make do with what they already have. Looking at the numbers, Aboulafia expects the sharpest cuts to be made manifest in 2010 (when Boeing's delayed 787 Dreamliner may see its first deliveries) and beyond. The manufacturers may agree -- Boeing has already taken some defensive measures. Boeing announced last year that it may take action to reduce the size of its workforce and slow production. Those actions would translate into hiring freezes enacted to allow for workforce reductions through normal attrition, but the company warns it may enact proactive layoffs.

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News Briefs back to top 

2008 Not A Good Year For Charity Flight Fatalities

Last year, at least 24 people died in crashes of U.S.-operated non-profit medical service and aid flights, a sharp increase in that only 16 were killed during the previous eight years. This year's carnage is stirring calls for more regulation, according to an article published Friday by USA Today, but those figures may paint a slanted picture. More than two-thirds of those killed in 2008 died in one plane crash, when 15 aid workers and two pilots were lost when their aircraft crashed in the Congo. A total of seven people, including three medical patients, were killed in three flights in the U.S. over the course of three months. According to USA Today, each of those flights was arranged through the Angel Flight network and the news agency found one NTSB member who, in voicing his own opinion, "said the government should consider increasing standards on such flights." Although there's no indication any new regulations or laws are on the way, some fear any move in that direction could constrict operations that currently offer more than 20,000 safe charity flights per year.

"If we were to do anything different, it would significantly impact the number of people that we would be able to help," Christel Gollnick, executive director of Angel Flight Central, told the paper. Some charity groups told the paper they are considering making voluntary safety upgrades to their operational guidelines, but are generally opposed to new regulations for fear that could impede their ability to provide services.

AirTran Apologizes To Muslims Kept From Plane

AirTran Airways has apologized to nine people (including three children, ages 7, 4, and 2, and two women) who were directed to stay off of their flight before departure Thursday afternoon from Reagan National bound for Orlando, after they were overheard discussing where on the aircraft would be the safest place to sit. That conversation apparently led to security concerns among other passengers who may have been influenced by the group's apparent South Asian descent and traditionally Muslim appearance -- the men wore beards and the women wore headscarves. An AirTran spokesman defended the company's handling of the incident, which included deplaning all 104 passengers for re-screening, taking a second look at their luggage and conducting a security sweep of the aircraft, before departing without the aforementioned nine. The decision to expel the group was ultimately made by the flight's captain, who was aware that passenger complaints had reached two federal air marshals aboard the flight, and that those two individuals had in turn reported the situation to airport police. As one of those ejected from a flight he initially paid for, Abdur Razack Aziz told the Washington Post, "Nothing came out of it. It was paranoid people. It was very sad."

In the end, the flight departed two hours late and the discharged passengers were issued full refunds by AirTran and were offered carriage on the airline at any future date. They were also offered free flights from Orlando back to Washington. After their expulsion, however, the group found their way to their destination with seats purchased on USAirways. A spokesman for the TSA defended the pilot's actions. "Someone heard something that was inappropriate, and then the airline decided to act on it. We certainly support [the pilot's] call to do that."

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News Briefs back to top 

Snowfall Snaps Wing Off Rare Vintage Plane

Click for more photos

It outlasted the Second World War and survived 40 years on the bottom of the Pacific but a heavy snowfall has felled the last remaining Handley Page Hampden bomber. Volunteers at the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, British Columbia, are appealing for help to put the little-known but historically significant aircraft back together again after snow broke the left wing off the twin-engine bomber. Like many small museums, the facility has to store some of its collection outside and that's not normally a problem in the usually temperate coastal area of B.C. But this year the area has been slammed with half a dozen snowstorms and, while museum volunteers did their best to clear the snow, an especially big dump on Dec. 26 was too much for the Hampden.

Jack Meadows, a longtime volunteer at the museum, said the facility has little money and the repairs will be costly. But he also said it's important to get the airplane back up on its gear because it's the only complete example in the world. Hampdens were frontline bombers when the war started in 1939 and flew the first operational sorties on the day war was declared. They were underpowered and vulnerable to the superior German aircraft but their crews gamely helped keep the enemy at bay, winning three Victoria Crosses in the effort, until more modern replacements were available. The museum's aircraft never saw conflict and was attached to a Royal Canadian Air Force training squadron on Vancouver Island before it went down in coastal waters in 1942. It was recovered in 1985 and restoration took almost 20 years.

Click here to view photos.

Related Content:
Podcast audio interview with Jack Meadows from the Canadian Museum of Flight

On the Fly ...

The XM weather feature on some Garmin handheld GPS units reportedly failed over the weekend. We weren't able to reach anyone from either company but will have more details Monday ...

A fatal plane crash took out power lines feeding one of Britain's busiest commuter rail lines on Friday and they still weren't fixed by late Sunday, prompting dire predictions about the morning commute. Three on board the Piper Cherokee died when the plane hit the lines serving the West Coast Mainline ...

Myanmar has begun offering ab initio flight training to promising young people as a way of keeping its military and four airlines flying. Offering initial training at home reduces cost ...

Canadian immigration officials are trying to determine if a baby born to a Ugandan woman on an American airliner in Canadian airspace is a Canadian. Sasha came into the world with the help of two doctors who were on the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Boston while the flight was over Canada. Nationality notwithstanding, the baby is said to be doing fine.

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

AVmail: January 5, 2009

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Flying and Alcohol

I want to compliment you for creating a forum to discuss alcohol (AVweb Insider Blog: Patty Wagstaff, Booze and Flying). I am writing because I am so impressed with the intelligent self-examination this discussion has elicited in the comments posted. It is another reason I admire the flying community so much. One of the posts used a phrase I like very much: "examine our relationship with alcohol." It seems strangely appropriate to think of this in the context of a "relationship." I have never seen such an open and honest discussion of alcohol and personal performance among my colleagues in medicine. As a surgeon, I would love to see my colleagues have a heartfelt discussion like this. Lost opportunity is hard to quantify, but you have managed to bring its relationship to alcohol into an open discussion.

Thank you again.


John Dietz

I think you are using Patty Wagstaff's misfortune to advance your career. Encouraging public discussion of her mistake on AVweb is just wrong. This is not a gossip rag, it is an aviation news resource. Joe Pilot's hypocritical comments on Patty are not news. Here is the rest of what I wanted to post [in the comments section] but it would not fit:

There is a lot none of us will ever know about this sad experience that Patty has had to endure very publicly. Perhaps with very few exceptions, on some less-than-stellar day of our lives we all have driven after a few too many. I am not a fan of drinking and driving, but I think the comments here are way out of line, and many are probably hypocritical. The EAA can shoulder the blame for a measure of this sad postscript to AirVenture 2008, and AVweb can surely shoulder all the blame for perpetuating the public humiliation of one of aviation's true heroes by posting this item so prominently and encouraging public comment, which they certainly could anticipate would be negative and inflammatory.

Such is the diabolical nature of public life. People like Patti give us their souls and risk their lives to make our lives more exciting and interesting. They take risks and demonstrate courage and dedication that the rest of us cannot begin to equal. If they make a mistake, the absolute worst in us creeps out of the woodwork to chastise and humiliate them. Patti may be paying a price for what took place that evening, but it is loathsome to pass judgment on those without a full understanding of the circumstances and without complete innocence with regard to any wrong of that type, caught or otherwise.

Pull this off AVweb. It does not belong there.

Bendrix Bailey

If I were to get charges such as Patty Wagstaff got, my pilot's certificate would be gone for a minimum of two years. What makes her different?

Lonnie Carpenter

Ice Techniques at Odds

We need to get on the same page (NTSB Warns Pilots To Use De-Icing Boots Early; NBAA Counters NTSB Icing Alert). I fly a Silver Eagle, an O- and N-modified Cessna P210 with the Rolls Royce turboprop conversion.

Since it is a single-engine turboprop with a high wing, I went ahead and took the Caravan deice course mandated by the FAA for Caravan pilots. It isn't what the NTSB is recommending at all. Specifically, they make multiple references to waiting until enough ice accumulates to allow it to break off cleanly. There is no mention, nor the option, in either plane for continuous boot cycling.

It should be noted that Cessna just modified and updated their Caravan course this year, with a several-month delay in its availability.

What is a pilot to do when the FAA-mandated course doesn't correspond with NTSB recommendations?

Bruce Ourieff

Is There an Avgas Replacement?

I read every day that the jet fuel biotechnology is advancing slowly but surely. In the meantime, what is happening with viable avgas replacements? I hear nothing more about the Purdue University biofuel. With the scrutiny on lead emissions, avgas may soon receive a terminal prognosis from the EPA. Will we all have to buy new engines, or is there viable ongoing research into replacements? (AVweb Insider Blog: Avgas — Why Isn't It Cheaper?)

Adrian Lineberger

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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.

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, operational and technical strategies to achieve greater cost and fuel efficiency. AVweb is a media partner for this forum. Call Melanie Mulazzi at +44 (20) 7981-2504, or click here to contact her via e-mail.

Details online.
New on AVweb back to top 

Snow Collapses One-of-a-Kind Vintage Bomber

File Size 5.9 MB / Running Time 6:29

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

The Pacific Northwest has been uncharacteristically buried in snow this winter, and a particularly heavy snowfall on Dec. 26 severely damaged the last remaining Hampden bomber at the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, British Columbia. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with museum volunteer Jack Meadows about why it's important to get this one-of-a-kind aircraft back on display.

Related Content:
Click here for photos and more information.

Click here to listen. (5.9 MB, 6:29)

AVweb Insider Blog: Avgas Prices — Why Aren't They Cheaper?

Your corner service station is offering 2001 prices; why isn't your FBO? Actually, a few are, and Paul Bertorelli explains why in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

Read more.

Between Wheels Up and Wheels Down, There Is One Important Word: How
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video of the Week: Canyonlands Flying in a Piper Cherokee

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Did someone say "backcountry flying"? It doesn't get more majestic than this video AVweb reader Alan Loehr pointed out to us recently. Sit back and enjoy several of Arizona and Utah's most breath-taking sites, seen through the canopy of a Piper Cherokee 140 and edited together into a couple of minutes by YouTube user webdaddy.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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

Bonus Video! Aviation Safety Profiles the Garmin 696's Top Safety Features

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

By now, you've seen and heard a lot about Garmin's new GPSMap 696 GPS device. In this video, Jeb Burnside, Editor-in-Chief of Aviation Safety magazine, walks you through four key safety features of the 696.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Bonus Video! IFR Magazine Goes Inside the Tower at JFK International Airport

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

IFR magazine Editor-in-Chief Jeff Van West spent time in the Tower at Kennedy airport to see what it takes to run the operation during the evening push and why it takes two years for a controller to reach full qualification at one of the busiest airports in the Northeast.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Put AeroExpo Europe - Prague and AeroExpo Europe - London on Your Show Schedule
AeroExpo Europe - Prague (May 22-24, 2009) will showcase everything from ultralights to helicopters to business aircraft in the heart of Europe, marketing to the European and emerging Eastern European and Russian markets. AeroExpo Europe - London (June 12-14, 2009) includes aircraft from light aircraft, pistons, and turboprops through to VLJs (very light jets) and all parts and services for these general aviation aircraft. Go online for exhibitor and attendee details.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Montgomery County Aviation (Wings Field at KLOM, Blue Bell, PA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to an FBO that's taken the honor once before, back in 2007.

AVweb reader Daniel Stegeman recommended Blue Bell, Pennsylvania's Montgomery County Aviation this time around:

[This] is not a fancy FBO. However, every day of the week — rain, sun, wind — you will be greeted with a smile as soon as you land. They will be at your plane asking how they can help and what you need. I fly in and out of KLOM often ... and every arrival is the same: first class service without exception. From mechanical issues to fuel or directions, [these guys are] always helpful. ... It's not uncommon to have good service at many FBOs, but ... Montgomery County Aviation should be your "FBO of the Week" because they do it right all the time.

Duly noted, Daniel! We couldn't agree more, and that's why MCA gets a second nod from AVweb as this week's leader of the pack.

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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More AVweb for Your Inbox back to top 

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

I was with an instrument student in a P210 preparing to depart IFR from Leesburg, Virginia. The remote radio frequency wasn't operating, so instead we set up the frequency for the Ground Control Outlet and clicked the microphone to activate the autodial telephone patch to Dulles Approach for our clearance.

Dulles Approach (on radio via Ground Control Outlet):
"You have reached the Dulles air traffic control approach facility. No one is availahle at this time to answer your call. Please leave your name and number, and someone will call back as soon as possible."

What, they don't have caller ID?

Richard S. Kaplan
Uniontown, Pennsylvania

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West

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

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

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

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your PDA or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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