AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 15, Number 01b

January 8, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Keeping the Aviation World Aloft back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Garmin and XM Talking Again

Users of Garmin's portable datalink receivers—the GPSmap 396, 496 and 696—got their weatherlink back in service by mid-morning on Wednesday, Garmin told AVweb. An undetermined number of users lost access to weather data after New Year's due to technical issues, which Garmin and XM declined to explain in detail.

Evidently, the outage affected only users who subscribe to data only—data and audio subscribers, we're told, never lost service. The outage also impacted only the puck-type antennas used in portables; panel-mount XM-based weather equipment was unaffected. By late Wednesday, AVweb had heard from several datalink subscribers who confirmed their weather service was back online.

Superior Chapter 11: Still Shipping Parts, For Now

Superior Air Parts says it's continuing to fill and ship orders following its bankruptcy filing of last week and the acquisition of most of its assets by Textron Lycoming. Superior's Kent Abercrombie told AVweb this week that although the company laid off staff following its Dec. 31 bankruptcy filing, it is maintaining sufficient staff to accept and fill orders. Superior's XP experimental engine program will continue, but its popular owner-build program for homebuilders has been at least temporarily suspended. Lycoming's purchase includes only Superior's assets, meaning its PMAs and STCs for aftermarket parts, production certificates and various approvals, plus all parts in inventory and related intellectual property and equipment. Curiously, it did not buy Superior's Millennium cylinder line for Teledyne-Continental engines that, presumably, represents yet another asset Superior can sell.

The company remains as an independent business entity, albeit an insolvent one. Superior got into financial straits following the bankruptcy of its mother company, Thielert Aero Engines, last spring. Immediately after Thielert filed for insolvency in Germany, Superior's shipments of its Millennium cylinder line were disrupted. The cylinders were being shipped to Germany as raw castings and finish machined in Thielert's facility. That work was suspended when Thielert went under, but resumed when its recovery plan was in place.

Abercrombie told AVweb that Superior has continued to deliver cylinders, but at a slower pace, and added that cylinder delivery lead times have been improved over the past couple of months. The bated-breath question is whether Lycoming will authorize Superior to continue producing Lycoming and Continental parts (other than cylinders) under the aegis of the treasure trove of PMAs it now owns. Both Superior and ECI have represented competitive pressure for Lycoming on parts prices, which many field overhaul shops say has allowed them to remain in business. Scott Miller, a spokesperson for Lycoming, told AVweb this week that the company can't comment on its business plans until the bankruptcy court approves the assets sale.

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Sturgell Out, Osmus In as Obama Takes Office back to top 

President Bush Selects New Acting Administrator For FAA

As his administration prepares to leave office, President George W. Bush on Tuesday announced that he intends to designate Lynne A. Osmus, of Virginia, to be acting administrator of the FAA, effective Jan. 16. The choice was revealed without fanfare near the end of a long list of new designees and appointments to a range of councils and boards. Osmus will replace Robert Sturgell, who has been acting administrator since September 2007. Efforts to confirm Sturgell's appointment languished in the Senate last year, and Sturgell said he would step down before the Obama administration took office. The appointment of Osmus essentially "keeps the seat warm," AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy told AVweb. "It ensures that there is someone accountable at the top of the organization. President-elect Obama is still expected to name a new administrator, and that person, assuming Senate confirmation, will be appointed to the full five-year term." Osmus has been with the FAA since 1979, and is currently the assistant administrator for security.

She led the FAA's post-9/11 security response and served as chief of staff under former Administrator Jane Garvey.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Cirrus Calls Mandatory Staff Meeting

Cirrus Design will hold a mandatory staff meeting on Thursday to discuss the company's state of affairs. WDIO TV is reporting that "major staffing changes" are in store for the company, which, like virtually all aircraft manufacturers, is seeing sales drop in the current economic crisis. The TV station quotes vice president of business administration Bill King as saying "huge internal staffing changes" are planned. "If the market conditions continue to soften — and they certainly could, you know, for the first quarter or two of the year here — then we're going to need to be thoughtful about how we respond to that as well," King told the TV station. "We certainly can't allow the business to get put into a situation where we can't sustain it."

The station says the memo calling the meeting indicates that not all employees scheduled to return to work from a month-long furlough will be recalled. King said there are new developments coming and the company is cautiously optimistic about sales in the coming year, but the economic situation is such that it's impossible to predict.

More Layoffs At Cessna

Cessna is warning its workers to brace for another round of layoffs as the deepening financial crises puts the brakes on aircraft orders. The Wichita Business Journal says Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver confirmed earlier reports that Cessna CEO Jack Pelton had sent an e-mail to employees saying the company's production schedule was being changed in response to economic conditions. He did not detail how each of the various production lines would be affected, nor did he say how many people will be laid off.

Oliver told the Business Journal that hard numbers would take a couple of weeks to determine. In November, 500 employees were told they would be laid off and those layoffs are just taking effect. Another 50 workers took a buyout. A month ago, Cessna halted a $13 million expansion of its Pawnee production plant. The company said at the time it is continuing construction of production facilities for its large-cabin Columbus business jet.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Forging Ahead in a Tough Market back to top 

FAA Certifies Embraer's Lineage 1000 Jet

Embraer announced on Wednesday that it has received the type certificate from the FAA for its ultra-large Lineage 1000 executive jet. The aircraft, aimed at the high-end luxury business jet segment, is based on the Embraer 190 commercial jet, which was certified in 2005. It can carry up to 19 passengers in a roomy interior with lots of baggage space, for up to 4,500 nm. The layout features five distinct privacy zones and two lavatories, with a third lavatory and a stand-up shower unit available as options. The cockpit is equipped with a five-screen integrated Honeywell Primus Epic avionics suite. The airplane sells for $43 million and first deliveries are expected early this year. To date, over 20 of the jets have been sold worldwide, according to Embraer. "We are pleased to announce the certification of the Lineage 1000 by the FAA," said Luis Carlos Affonso, Embraer Executive Vice President, Executive Jets. "One of the great achievements of this project regards the maximum range of the aircraft, which was extended to 4,500 nautical miles, giving operators new possibilities for routes and destinations."

The airplane can fly nonstop from London to New York, from Moscow to Tokyo, and from New York to Paris or Brazil. The aircraft was type certified in Brazil and Europe in December.

Thielert Recovering From Insolvency, Company Says

Despite last year's insolvency and a subsequent drop in production, Thielert Aircraft Engines is now in the black and working to capacity, according to Bruno M. Kubler, the company's insolvency administrator. Kubler also said in a news release on Wednesday that all employees still have their jobs. "The fact that TAE was able to make it back into the profit zone again without any staff cuts is especially gratifying, particularly in these financially difficult times," Kubler said. He added that he is negotiating with new potential investors, including two defense contractors, and he is hopeful that by developing new military applications for the diesel engines and quickly obtaining certifications, the company can ensure its sustainable future. However, Superior Air Parts, a former Thielert subsidiary that got into financial straits following the bankruptcy of its mother company, has not fared so well. Superior filed for bankruptcy last week and laid off much of its staff. Owners of Diamond Twin Stars also are not unscathed, facing several alternatives for dealing with the Thielert problem, none of which will be entirely satisfactory. (Click here for a recent analysis of the Twin Star situation by AVweb Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli.)

Thielert supplies certified diesel engines and parts worldwide to customers in the general aviation sector, as well as engines for reconnaissance drones.

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News Briefs back to top 

Pilots Needed For Flight-Training Study

Plenty of student pilots and instructors have spent hours of ground time amusing themselves with flight simulator software, but the programs are not generally used as actual training aids. But some researchers at Middle Tennessee State University are working on a study to evaluate the effectiveness of Microsoft Flight Simulator in private pilot training. One of the researchers on that project, Wendy Beckman, began to wonder if the software might also have an effect on students working toward their instrument rating. So she designed an online survey, with just 12 questions, and is inviting instrument-rated pilots to log on and participate. The survey takes only a few minutes to complete, and your input will help Beckman to complete her analysis. "The point of the whole exercise is just to determine if there is some usefulness to the software for pilots," she told AVweb. There are lots of opinions about that, she said, "but it would be nice to have some data." Pilots can participate whether or not they have ever used the program, or if they used it during their training or later to maintain proficiency. Participants are anonymous, and no identifying information is collected.

Privatization Plan For California Airport Faces Obstacles

Although a new commercial airport due to open soon in Branson, Mo., will be privately run, and hundreds of small GA airfields are operated by private owners, efforts to convert existing government-run airports in the U.S. to private management have met resistance. Since 1997, only six airport operators have applied to an FAA program to privatize airports, and five terminated or withdrew their requests, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. Only a plan to privatize Midway Airport, near Chicago, remains in play. Now, local officials in Long Beach, Calif., are discussing a plan to privatize their municipal airport, but the plan is controversial. "I don't see this as a very attractive target for a takeover by private companies," Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga told the Times. "The airport is close to residential areas, and there's a grandfathered noise ordinance that would be of concern ... I don't know how the airport will be profitable unless there is expansion." And expansion is problematic, since the field is surrounded by densely settled, affluent neighborhoods.

Privatization is common in Canada, Europe and Asia, the Times reports. More than 50 airports worldwide have privatized their operations, management or ownership since 1987.

Branson Airport is scheduled to open in May, with a single 7,140-foot runway and a control tower staffed by FAA contract personnel. The project cost $155 million and the owners expect 500,000 passengers per year, growing to 1.5 million within five years. The airport is a 10-minute drive from downtown Branson, a popular tourist destination.

For Australia's Flying Doctors, Obesity Carries A Cost

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, a historic outfit known around the world for providing health care and transport to patients in remote regions since the 1930s, now faces a uniquely 21st-century problem -- the obesity epidemic. Stretchers on new aircraft for air ambulance service in Australia are now required to handle patients weighing up to 570 pounds, almost twice the previous limit. Alan Tippett, spokesman for the RFDS, told the Daily Telegraph that besides upgrading to stronger stretchers, the organization is considering buying two larger airplanes, which would cost about AU$10 million each. "It is alarming to consider that the number of people who are obese has increased so much that special equipment is needed to lift those in a medical emergency to safety," Australia's Acting Health Minister Ian Macdonald told the Telegraph. "This should be a wake-up call to the community to watch what they eat by cutting down on fats and sugars and increasing how often they exercise." The story followed recent reports that more than 7.5 million Australian adults are overweight or obese, representing more than one third of the country's total population.

Worldwide, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them obese, according to the World Health Organization. "The obesity epidemic is not restricted to industrialized societies; this increase is often faster in developing countries than in the developed world," says WHO. Childhood obesity also is already epidemic in some areas and on the rise in others. An estimated 22 million children under five are estimated to be overweight worldwide. Obesity can lead to debilitating and life-threatening health problems, according to WHO.

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News Briefs back to top 

Pilots Help Transport Dogs In Need

General aviation got some positive press last Friday when the NBC Nightly News aired a segment about Pilots-N-Paws, an outfit based in South Carolina that helps transport dogs from overcrowded shelters to places where they can be cared for in temporary housing or placed in new homes. The year-old organization doesn't actually arrange the flights, but provides a Web site and discussion forum, a sort of ride board, where those in need and GA pilots who are willing to help can find one another. "Every time I take off, that's a couple more dogs that aren't going to be euthanized," volunteer pilot and co-founder of the organization, John Wehrenberg, told NBC. In an interview last year with USA Today, he said: "Pilots love to fly. I believed that if we created a means for them to discover situations where they could fly and also save animals, many would do it."

In just over a year, the Web site has helped to arrange flights for over 200 shelter dogs, flown by about 115 volunteer pilots. Without the pilots' help, dogs that need to be transported to new homes hundreds of miles away are taken by volunteer driver relays, which are difficult to coordinate and can require the animals to be transferred from car to car as often as 12 times in a day.

"Some animals need medical care or are just not suited to the stress of a ground transport, and that is where there is a great need for pilots," says the Pilot-N-Paws Web site. An airplane can efficiently cover what would be a 12-hour drive in one-quarter of the time, and with just one pilot instead of six or more volunteer drivers. Pilots who would like to help out can find more info at the Pilots-N-Paws Web site. To view the NBC video, click here.

On the Fly ...

Flight restrictions have been posted for the Washington, D.C., area during Inauguration Day, Jan. 20...

A helicopter crashed on its way to an oil rig off the Louisiana coast, killing eight of the nine on board ...

Continental Airlines on Wednesday flew a 737 on a biofuel blend, using second-generation, sustainable fuels ...

Seven airlines have sued the FAA to block new safety rules aimed at curbing pilot fatigue on international flights.

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New on AVweb back to top 

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.

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 prohibited.

For more information, visit WingsOfDreams.org.
The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

Question of the Week: Is 2009 the Year You Buy a Light Airplane?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked AVweb readers which breaking news story of 2008 deserved the title "Story of the Year." Once again, that perennial favorite choice OTHER topped the list, though only by a fraction of a percentage. Running neck-and-neck with the catch-all choice was the Eclipse bankruptcy, accounting for 28% of the responses. Another 24% of you fingered the continuing battle over user fees as the year's top headline.

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.)

(Some of you wrote to tell us that we should have listed the recession or the bizjet brouhaha among our choices — and maybe we should, but both seemed to be somewhat in-progress at the time we thought up the question.)


Tough times for the U.S. economy have slowed predictions of breakout growth in general aviation — but they haven't stalled it. Tell us if this is the year you plan to buy a light airplane.

Are you planning to buy a light airplane this year?
(click to answer)

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

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.

Inside the Circle, the New Aviation Novel from
AVweb's "Brainteasers" Quizmaster, Now Available

1937. The Depression lingers, Amelia Earhart is lost, and prohibition is over. Barnstormers who'd once made a living in the bootlegging trade turn to less interesting work. One enterprising flyer, Kate Strauss, can't qualify for the airlines, because "No Women Allowed." With friends and lovers, Kate keeps a small Midwestern flight operation aloft by the numbers — the numbers racket. Go online to order for yourself and as gifts.
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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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week." Want to see your photo on AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.


As winter weather sweeps across North America, let's throw another log on the fire, hunker down on the sofa, and kick back with the laptop to enjoy a few reader-submitted photos. AVweb readers kicked off the new year in style, sending us nearly 100 unique photos. As usual, we'll showcase the top five here and load up our home page slideshow with 20 or so bonus pics to keep your eyes happy until next Thursday.

medium | large

copyright © Victor Pallotto
Used with permission

Short Final

The arrival of this student pilot and his instructor (photographed by Victor Pallotto of Passaic, New Jersey) signals the beginning of our weekly photo survey! Grab your specs, and let's spend a little time gawking, shall we?

medium | large

copyright © Ricky Sueltenfuss
Used with permission

A Curious Brown Bear

Ricky Sueltenfuss of Homer, Alaska tells us Katmai National Park "hosts the largest population of brown bears in the world," and he shared a few pics this week to prove it. "Naturalist guides and pilots land on the beautiful but rough beaches and soak in the majestic landscape of glaciers, volcanos, and abundant bears eating grass and chasing fish." (Like the combination of grizzlies and Pipers? You'll find another of Ricky's photos in the home page slideshow this week.)

medium | large

copyright © Eric Cobb
Used with permission

Strike Two

Now there's a sight that can only be seen from above! Eric Cobb of Santa Ynez, California snapped it on a fly-over of New Mexico "west of Gallup" and shares it with the rest of us who didn't get to fly this week.

O.K., we surrender! The copy above is a little vague, and we should have said that Eric snapped his incredible photo of Arizona's Meteor Crater flying west from Gallup, New Mexico — not that he was flying over New Mexico when he took the shot. Thanks to Larry, Vince, Anne, Dick, and Dave for telling us the name of that crater is actually Meteor Crater and reminding us that it's a good 100 miles west of Gallup. (Eric, if anyone offers to send you a new GPS, just go with it, O.K.?)

medium | large

Used with permission of Jerry Cochran

1929 Waco Rebuilding Project — First Start

This photo from Jerry Cochran of Sherwood, Oregon marks "the first start of a 1929 Waco being rebuilt by Rich Melhoff of Newberg, Oregon." Let's hope the rest of the build goes as smoothly!

medium | large

Used with permission of Ben Lindner

The Super Ryan

Ben Lindner of Shawnee, Kansas bids us adieu with "the one-of-a-kind Super Ryan, on the All-Kansas Air Tour in April 2008."

Remember: There's a great crop of bonus photos to be seen in the slideshow on AVweb's home page!

Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)

A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Scott Simmons

Jeff van West

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

Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.

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

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

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.