AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 15, Number 2a

January 12, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Watching the Weather back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Garmin Issues Fix For WX Issue

Garmin has issued an update for certain handheld GPS units to fix a problem with access to the XM weather option. The 4.60 upgrade is aimed at upgrading "XM data validation for XM subscribers with weather data only." Over New Year's hundreds of Garmin XM subscribers lost weather capability and it was several days before service was restored.

Be sure to read Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli's take on the way the companies involved handled the outage.

Cirrus Introduces FIKI, Announces Layoffs

Cirrus Design will announce a series of model changes for 2009 today, including certified flight into known icing for the SR22. A news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Central time in which the company will unveil details of the FIKI system, which will be an enhancement of the current TKS set-up now available. There's a larger tank of fluid and more surfaces with the weeping surface. Other enhancements to the product line will include avionics options based on the Perspective glass panel. AVweb's podcast interview with Cirrus spokesman Ian Bentley will go live at 11 a.m. EST. The product enhancement announcement comes three days after Cirrus cut production to eight planes a week, laid off 50 administration staff and extended the furlough period of 100 of 500 employees who were just getting back to work after a month-long furlough.

Company spokesman Bill King told the Grand Forks Herald that a worse set of economic circumstances than anticipated a couple of months ago led to the staffing adjustments. King didn't mince words about the need for the staff cuts. "That's what all this cutting and streamlining is about — we've got to weather the storm. Otherwise, there's not going to be a Cirrus Design," he said.

Cirrus Aircraft Announces New SR20, SR22, and Turbo Model Packages
Cirrus Aircraft announces comprehensive new features, upgrades, and option packages to its best-selling SR20, SR22, and Turbo model aircraft lineup for 2009. These include "Known Ice Protection" on SR22 and Turbo models; well-equipped "S," "GS," and "GTS" editions available on all models; an all-new "X-Edition" premium interior and exterior upgrade package; new paint schemes across the line; and more. Visit the all-new CirrusAircraft.com for complete details.
Economic Challenges for Some ... back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Boeing Announces Layoffs, Orders Fall Behind Airbus

Boeing announced Friday that it will layoff 4500 workers from its commercial aircraft division, beginning with 60-day layoff notices to be issued on Feb. 20 and amid reports that it would lose both the orders and deliveries race to Airbus in 2008. The eight-week-long machinists strike suffered by Boeing did affect the number of aircraft delivered by the company in 2008, which fell behind Airbus' total deliveries for the sixth straight year. The strike that began in September helped Boeing's deliveries in the fourth quarter plummet down to 50 (from 112 a year earlier). In the orders race, where Boeing's net figure fell from 1413 in 2007 to 662 in 2008, Airbus (which hasn't yet reported December figures) earned 756 orders through the first 11 months of last year. The tale of the tape shows that record order numbers in 2007 were halved at Boeing in 2008. Airbus' orders through 11 months are two-thirds that company's 2007 figure. Both companies still have extensive order backlogs -- Boeing alone looks to fill more than 3,700 -- that likely will be whittled down by some degree through deferrals and cancelations. Demand for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner accounts for nearly 900 orders now to be delivered no earlier than the first quarter of 2010. That aircraft is expected to fly in the second quarter of 2009, as the result of a fourth announced delay, and the company's efforts to speed the process has allocated its resources from other projects. A 747 update will now be at least nine months late because engineers have been diverted to the 787 project.

Boeing employs about 76,400 people in Washington State alone, which means its cut represents a 5-percent reduction in its workforce. The order backlog represents years of production work yet to be completed, but Boeing is reacting to what it perceives as a challenging and uncertain market in the years ahead. Those employees headed for the chopping block in February are not expected to come from the company's production lines; Boeing will likely be cutting long-term contractors as opposed to full-time employees, and keeping its production at or near current levels.

Cessna Will See More Layoffs In 2009

AVwebBiz Wednesday reported that following a December announcement that Cessna would cut 500 workers, Cessna CEO Jack Pelton rang in the New Year with a Jan. 6 e-mail to employees that announced the possibility of still more layoffs. The number of jobs affected is yet to be determined. "As soon as we finalize our revised 2009 production plan, we will communicate what the implications are for our company," wrote Pelton. Wichita is already reeling from 800 jobs eliminated by Boeing and 490 removed by Hawker Beechcraft. Now, as Cessna seeks to find its balance with order cancellations, deferrals and their associated production cutbacks, more layoffs will be coming. The company delivered a record number of aircraft in 2008, but jet orders began to decline mid-year and plans for growth must now be reassessed. A spike in used aircraft on the market has had wide-ranging impact and "the domestic market remains very soft," according to Pelton, while "the international markets that were very strong a year ago are now quiet." Even shared aircraft service providers like NetJets have significantly altered their plans and NetJets specifically has backed off of an order for what Pelton called, "a significant number" of aircraft. Based on prior announcements, at least 150 employees volunteered for a layoff program through which Cessna offers a severance package.

Layoffs at Cessna are expected to be spread throughout the company, which recently employed about 12,000 people in Wichita and 450 in Bend, Ore., where Cessna 400 and 350 (previously Columbia) aircraft are built. Some 500 in Wichita have already been weaned from the employer, plus 165 in Bend.

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... Opportunities for Others back to top 

Superior Air Parts Chapter 11 Notice Of Auction

Superior Air Parts, which has filed motions for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, now expects to obtain court approval of the bidding process by Jan. 15 as Avco (a subsidiary of Textron) sits poised to compete with offers above its own $11.5 million cash bid for "substantially all of Superior's assets." That bid is free of all liens and other claims. Aside from supplying parts for Continental and Lycoming engines, Superior is also an OEM for the 180-horsepower Vantage Engine. Superior "is a distributor of over 2,000 general parts purchased from other manufacturers," according to papers flied Wednesday. As such, its sale or dissolution could affect a wide swath of aviation interests from overhaul shops to individual pilot/owners. Superior told AVweb last week that 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. Superior is expected to file a plan to distribute the proceeds of the sale to all creditors, according to each creditor's legally determined priority. The coming auction will deliver Superior's assets free and clear and all creditors will be enjoined and barred from pursuing any claims against Avco or any other purchaser of Superior Assets. More important to Joe Pilot, it may also significantly alter the landscape of engine parts pricing and availability for general aviation aircraft.

For information on the proposed sale to AVCO, bidding procedures, your right to object, and deadlines go to http://www.strasburger.com/client/SuperiorAirParts/ or contact Ms. Angela Dunn, Administrative Ass't, Strasburger & Price, LLP, at angela.dunn@straburger.com, facsimile 512-499-3660. You may also obtain all filings with the Court by going to the Court's Web site at http://www.txnb.uscourts.gov/ECF/ECF-Register and following the instructions.

Lake Aircraft Again Puts Assets Up For Sale

It has nothing to do with the economy, according to 70-something-year-old owner Armand Rivard, it's just "time to go fishing." The company, which once employed about 200 people in Maine and Fort Pierce, Fla., and reached peak production of about 100 aircraft per year in the mid 1980's, now retains four people in Kissimmee and two in New Hampshire to support some 1,300 Lake-manufactured aircraft in service throughout the world. Lake Aircraft is currently owned by Rivard's Revo Inc., and the latter will soon offer Lake's assets at a price yet to be determined. Rivard's previous attempts to sell Lake -- in 2001, 2002, 2005 (through what became an uneventful auction at AirVenture Oshkosh) and 2007 -- all fell short. But Lake aircraft remain unique to a market that retains a cost of entry great enough to potentially dissuade competition for years to come, according to Rivard. The assets for sale include the company's rather unique FAA certificate for a single-engine amphibious aircraft, dies and drawings, component and assembly tooling, plus global manufacturing and marketing rights. Revard this time says he's just trying to get a feel for the market, would prefer to sell to an American buyer, and doesn't "need that much" for the company. Lake Aircraft produced all of zero aircraft in 2008 and just one in 2007, but Rivard says that's mostly due to a lack of marketing and that the aircraft's certification in a niche market gives it the potential to corner markets he hasn't properly explored.

While demand for Lake aircraft remains to be seen, tapped or developed by Lake's eventual buyer, the aircraft currently holds a distinction as the only FAA-certified (non-LSA) single-engine amphibious airplane produced in the world. Models offer a 1000-nautical mile range, a 900-foot ground roll or 1300-foot takeoff distance when departing from water. The company's offerings have range from early four-seat models to a stretched 290-hp STC'd version capable of hauling six. The 250-hp Buccaneer even graduated to FAR Part 23 certification. Lake holds eight world records for speed and altitude in its class and Rivard appears to hope a new owner can complete his unfinished explorations into creating a turbine model. All it takes is time, determination and money.

Related Content:
Podcast interview with Armand Rivard

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News Briefs back to top 

Airlines/Industry Suggest To Obama $4 Billion Stimulus

In a letter obtained by Dow Jones Newswire, aviation groups are seeking funds to launch NextGen and equip aircraft with ADS-B equipment. The letter outlines how a $4 billion cash infusion could be used to ignite NextGen air traffic control infrastructure modernization and create 77,000 jobs while obliterating previous completion date estimates. "Significant benefits that the FAA and Congress believe will be realized over the next 17 years could actually happen in the President-elect Obama's first term," according to the letter. The groups also emphasized that NextGen's reliance on ADS-B and GPS technologies would provide carriers and controllers with the ability to meet a projected rise in air traffic with more efficient (and more direct) routing that would not only counter an increase in traffic but also promise savings in both time and fuel. The groups represented by the letter specifically named in published reports so far include the commercial airlines via the Air Transport Association (ATA), and business jet operators via the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA).

The groups note that such funding wouldn't be altogether unprecedented, noting prior government-funded purchases for industry. Specifically, the letter cites grants for "Alaska's Captsone project and the Ohio River Valley project," which both pursued the expansion of ADS-B.

Australia's Multi-Crew Pilot License Category Draws Concern

Six cadets from China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines last month completed work at Boeing's training arm, Alteon, in Brisbane, in a Multi-Crew Pilot licensing program (MPL) that aims to revolutionize and streamline airline cockpit crew training to answer the forecast demand for pilots. Boeing and Airbus together currently have a backlog of more than 7,000 aircraft -- all of them will need pilots at a time when the pilot population is expected to lose increasing numbers to age-induced retirement. To produce more airline pilots at a faster rate, MPL shifts training's emphasis from flight hours directly to airline cockpit competency with a focus on cockpit resource management, critical thinking and risk management. Aspiring airline pilots in the 20-month trial program did not spend thousands of hours building their flight skills, working their way up from private, to instructor, to commercial aviator to airline pilot, but instead were "trained from day one for the job they will be doing in aviation," Civil Aviation Safety Authority chief executive Bruce Byron told The Australian. MPL, now tested through two years, was on Dec. 19 endorsed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with rules and requirements that support the program. But because the program replaces what could be years of hands-on flying with simulator training and coursework, opponents say substantial concerns remain.

Supporters of the program say MPL's specificity of design directly targets and develops those skills pilots need to have to operate in an airline environment. And opponents who say there's no substitute for flight time may in the end be overruled by market forces. Workforce forecasts based in part on order backlogs at Boeing and Airbus suggest a strong demand for airline pilots over the next two decades. In 2007, Boeing's forecast projected a need for more than 17,000 new pilots per year for the next 20 years. Alteon's solution may not yet be optimal, but as job-focused training the company hopes it will prove to be an efficient and effective substitute to sending cadets off to train private pilots and then haul cargo in a 310 for a few years before being thrust into the cockpit of an airliner.

Pilot Confronted Over Alcohol Smell

Two passengers noticed last week at a security checkpoint at Port Columbus that an airline pilot they passed nearby smelled strongly of alcohol, so they told a TSA agent ... but they didn't stop there. According to the Columbus Dispatch,as the men proceeded beyond the checkpoint, they noticed that the pilot was heading toward their own departure gate and so with further inspired mortal vigor took matters into their own hands. They approached the pilot and frankly told him he stank of alcohol, adding that if he had a drinking problem, he shouldn't be flying an airplane. At that point, the man identified only as a Chicago-based Southwest Airlines captain turned red, turned around and ran away. Airport police were dispatched and later found the captain in a restroom, where he'd apparently removed his uniform jacket and replaced it with a normal business jacket. The police may have just missed the phone call the captain had just made to his employer, but what they did hear may have been interesting enough.

While in the restroom, the captain reportedly called in sick, setting in motion his replacement on Southwest Flight 3396, a Boeing 737 out of Columbus for Orlando. When accosted by the police, he allegedly told them he had "partied hard" the previous evening, according to the Columbus Dispatch, but hadn't had a drink that day. The officers confirmed that the captain did smell like alcohol but noted that he did not appear to be impaired in any (other) way. Airline officials told police they would test the captain for alcohol and both the FAA and Southwest are looking into the matter. The accused pilot is out on paid leave.

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New on AVweb back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Garmin/XM Weatherlink Outage — Shades of 1993

Garmin, XM and WxWorx didn't do the best job in keeping customers informed when their weatherlink service went down last week, and the missed opportunity reminded our Editorial Director, Paul Bertorelli, of another instance where a large firm made a costly public relations mistake. Read his thoughts in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

Read more.

Dr. Blue Says, "Be Smart — Carry a PLB!"
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

AVmail: January 12, 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: From an Ice Expert

Our company airplanes fly in icing as part of cloud-seeding and atmospheric research operations, so we have some experience in that area. The NTSB is completely missing the boat. They keep trying to dispel the myth of "ice bridging," which is what supposedly happens if you inflate the boots when the ice is too thin and it only stretches the ice. Now you supposedly have a "shell" of ice around your boots and they won't be effective. And guess what? That doesn't happen much, so the NTSB is right about that.

But, that is not the real reason you must wait for some ice to accrue on the leading edges before activating the boots. Here's how deice boots work:

Ice builds up on the leading edge. When the ice is a solid layer (1/8" to 1/4"), you inflate the deice boots. The ice is cracked, and the airflow catches the rough edges and rips the ice off of the plane. Repeat as needed, notice that you never get rid of all of the ice. It helps to make the boot surfaces as smooth as possible (so that the ice can't hang on, like why you sand something before you paint it), so we use boot treatment every so often and Pledge wax or ICEX to seal all the tiny imperfections in the rubber surface as much as possible.

The NTSB wants you to hit the boots as soon as you have any ice. Try it with a very light coating and see what happens. Right — nothing. You have to let it build up at least a little.

Some other real-life icing tips:

  1. Keep your airspeed up. That keeps the angle of attack lower and keeps the ice on the leading edges, where you have boots.
  2. Never reduce power before initiating a descent with ice on the airplane. Always start it downhill and let some speed build before you reduce power if needed. You might be relying on that propwash for lift, and you might need every bit of the airspeed you currently have.
  3. If you don't lose all of the ice before landing, then keep your speed up until touchdown. Don't use all the flaps either. That might blank out airflow to the tail or change the angle of attack just when you don't want it.
  4. Remember that your horizontal tail will be affected more than the wings with the same amount of ice, because it is a thinner airfoil and the same amount of ice will affect it far worse than the thicker wing. That's why the tail stalls first if you load it up aerodynamically (like a steep bank, or a landing flare) when you have ice on.

Hans Ahlness

And It's Windy, Too ...

Hey, you guys -- go look at your charts. Midway Airport is not "near" Chicago, it's smack in the middle of the city. It's one square mile surrounded by the City of Chicago between 55th Street on the north, 63rd on the south, Cicero Avenue on the east and Central on the west.

Linda Pendleton

XM Outage

XM had a software failure that began Jan. 2 and lasted until Jan. 7. There was no notice I was aware of from either XM or Garmin. When I called both on Monday morning, Garmin responded, "The problem is with XM, not us." XM said they were working on it. It would have been nice to receive a broadcast e-mail or text message from either company about the failure. I can learn when runway lights are out; why not weather, which can be a tad more important? Garmin's attitude seemed cavalier. XM seemed not to comprehend that weather might be more important than a loss of music. And, of course, I am ultimately responsible for flying and weather. The weather on my 496 from XM has been very reliable. Maybe that's why the outage was a surprise.

W. Clarke Prescott

AVweb Replies:

Be sure to read AVweb Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli's take on the way the outage was handled.

Russ Niles

By Land or by Sea

How is crossing on the surface of the water like other "vessels" in a float plane affected by the new notification and manifest rule? Boats and cars don't have to do this. Do seaplanes that cross the border on the surface of the water? I hope not. I assume that they do not, because all that I have read says that this procedure is necessary when "flying" across the U.S. border.

Customs officials don't want to give a positive answer but can't find anything that says that my presumption is incorrect.

If the idea is to enforce the "No-Fly Rule," can we assume that soon we are going to have to notify Homeland Security on all small plane flights for every flight — any place, any time, even in my non-electric (no starter, transponder battery etc.) Piper Cub on Floats?

Also, what happens if we send them the electronic manifest and then take off and it turns out that there is someone already in the airplane who is on their list *or has a name similar to names on their list)? They are already flying! What does Homeland Security/Customs do then with them/us when we show up to report to Customs?

P.S. I am sure that any persons seeking to do harm to our country will comply with all this bureaucracy. Aren't you?

Bradford Parker

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.

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

Video of the Week: Wingsuit Base-Jumping

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

We've seen bits and pieces of our latest "Video of the Week" around the web, but it was AVweb reader Joe Rowell who pointed us to the full version we're running today. Even if the phrase "wingsuit base-jumping" doesn't pique your interest, we think you'll enjoy the breath-taking scenery and incredible camera work in this clip from Matchstick Productions' Seven Sunny Days, posted by Vimeo user Ali.

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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."

Lake Amphib Manufacturer for Sale

File Size 3.9 MB / Running Time 4:16

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

One of the oldest continuously produced line of aircraft in the world, the Lake family of single-engine amphibians, is for sale. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with the current owner, Armand Rivard, about the potential future of the unique airplane.

Click here to listen. (3.9 MB, 4:16)

Hill Aircraft Parts Department Announces January as Customer Appreciation Month
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More to See on AVweb back to top 

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.

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.

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.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Desert Skies Executive Air Terminal (Lake Havasu, AZ)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Desert Skies Executive Air Terminal at Lake Havasu City Airport (HII) in Lake Havasu, Arizona.

AVweb reader Claudia Huber confessed that she stopped at Desert Skies "because of the cheap fuel," but was surprised by the hospitality:

Our first stop was at the wrong place, but there was no problem to get the fuel truck from Desert Skies to our parking. Inside the building, there were free coffee, donuts, popcorn, and much more for free for pilots. As a Swiss pilot usually flying in Euorpe, this was a wonderful arrival. Nice, helpful, friendly people, smiling all the time. Great!

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 while en route to Hendersonville, NC:

"Piper XXX, say destination."

Piper XXX:
T as in ... tail.
R as in ... roger.
I as in ... um ... inside."

Jeff Brooks
Flushing, MI

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.