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White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday at a press briefing that President Barack Obama "doesn't believe" using private jets "is the best use of money"-- at least not if that money is
from a federally financed bailout package. In response to a question about Citigroup spending $50 million for a Dassault Falcon
7X business jet, which was reported Monday in the New York Post, Gibbs said,
"The president believes that great care should be used anytime the taxpayers' money is being used ... that money should be used to lend to consumers to get the economy moving again, to free up capital
and credit, and help small businesses create jobs." Citigroup has received $45 billion from the TARP, or Troubled Asset Relief Program. According to Bloomberg News, an official from the Treasury Department called Citigroup this week to "express
concern" about the company's planned purchase of the jet. A bank spokesperson told Bloomberg that their intent was to sell off older aircraft and buy new, more efficient ones and no TARP funds would
be used for the purchase. The plan, however, drew an outcry. Sen. Carl Levin, of Michigan, where the auto industry has taken harsh criticism for use of corporate jets, said that Citigroup shouldn't be
flying either. "To permit Citigroup to purchase a plush plane -- foreign-built no less -- while domestic auto companies are being required to sell off their jets is a ridiculous double standard," he
said in a statement on his Web site. "The notion of Citigroup spending $50 million on a new corporate jet, even as
it is depending on billions of taxpayer dollars to survive, does not fly." Citigroup later released a statement saying that the company has "no intent to take delivery of any new aircraft."
NBAA responded on Wednesday with a letter to President Barack Obama. "While we support the need for wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars, we are deeply concerned about a pattern that seems to be
emerging in which policymakers are discouraging and disparaging the use of general aviation for business purposes," wrote NBAA President Ed Bolen. "This has to stop -- policymakers need to understand
that general aviation is about jobs.... Instead of discouraging companies from accepting and using business airplanes or any other strategic business asset, policymakers should be looking for ways to
increase general aviation manufacturing jobs, promote economic development in communities without commercial airline service, and facilitate productivity and efficiency at companies trying to do more
with less." [more] For the full text of Bolen's letter, click here.
The three-engine 7X was certified in April 2007, and according to Dassault, offers up to 40 percent better fuel efficiency than other aircraft in its class. The airplane has a range of almost 6,000
nm and can carry up to 12 passengers.
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If you were looking forward to the new NBAA Light Business Aircraft show (LBA2009) scheduled for this March in San Diego, you can still catch all of those seminars and exhibits -- but they'll be
moving to the site of the regular NBAA annual convention, in Orlando, Fla., in October. NBAA, faced with today's grim economic realities, has canceled the San Diego show. "NBAA is totally committed to
serving those who rely on light business airplanes, as well as those who are considering how to fit these aircraft into their business models," Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation
Association, said on Wednesday. "But in this economic climate, it is difficult to launch an event that our members and
exhibitors expect from NBAA. We all know that our industry is finding it necessary to limit travel and marketing expenses, so we are going to combine all of the excellent elements we'd planned for LBA
into the Convention." Merging the two shows will cut expenses for both attendees and exhibitors, says NBAA. The entrepreneurs and pilots for whom LBA was designed will still be able to participate in
two full days of education sessions designed for them, including the Cessna Single-Pilot Safety Standdown, Bolen said, at the Orlando show.
"Any change in plans has consequences and we regret the inconvenience to all who finalized their itinerary for San Diego," Bolen said. "Still, we believe the step we've taken is the right one for
both attendees and exhibitors in this very challenging economy." NBAA had said back in December that it would cut the inaugural LBA show down from three days to just two, and cut fees in half for attendees. The NBAA annual convention is scheduled
for Oct. 20 to 22 in Orlando.
Boeing this week bumped up its previously announced plan to cut 4,500 jobs, and will lay off a total of 10,000
workers, the company told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. That's about 6 percent of the
company's total workforce. Boeing blamed last year's strike and the global recession for its losses. "The progress we made in many areas of Boeing during 2008 was outweighed by the impact of the
strike and our performance on some key development programs," said Chairman, President, and CEO Jim McNerney in a news
release. "Our imperative going forward is improving execution where it needs to be improved, maintaining strong performance across all our production programs, and preserving our financial
strength to grow in these challenging economic times." The company delivered only 50 aircraft in the last quarter of 2008, but plans had called for 120. Interest in the 787 Dreamliner remains strong,
the company said, with 895 orders on the books, although one customer has cancelled an order for 15 aircraft. First deliveries of the 787 are now expected in early 2010, with first flight in the
second quarter of this year.
Last year's strike stalled airplane deliveries from September well into November.
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Cessna has revised its SkyCatcher design with a new tail, and brought the airplane to last week's Sport Aviation
Expo in Sebring, Fla., to show to potential customers and the press. The new tail surface is bigger and more vertical, and project engineer Neal Wilford told AVweb the new design is now in
flight testing and has been performing well. The airplane's aerodynamics got a second look after a spin accident last year, in which
the test pilot was unable to regain control and bailed out, and the airplane spun in and crashed. Wind tunnel tests on the new design have shown the airplane has no unrecoverable spin characteristics,
says AOPA. Other minor changes include the removal of the dorsal fin, and a switch to aluminum seats to save
weight. Wilford told Kitplanes editor Marc Cook at Sebring that the production line at Cessna's factory in China is ready to go and the first copy of the SkyCatcher is already in the works. Once
complete, it will be shipped to the U.S. and reassembled here, for first delivery in the second half of this year. Cessna has said it has about 1,000 orders for the airplane, which sells for about
$112,000. Click here to see AVweb's exclusive video interview with Wilford and
Cook at Sebring.
The cockpit is equipped with a Garmin G300 system. Cessna hopes the airplane will become the standard flight-training aircraft for the next generation of light sport and private pilots.
Diamond Aircraft Industries has received EASA Type Certification for its Austro E4 turbo-diesel airplane engine, the company announced on
Wednesday. The certification has been in the works for almost four years, but recently interest in the engine has intensified as Thielert, another European manufacturer of diesels for GA aircraft,
encountered financial difficulties and declared bankruptcy. Although Thielert has continued to produce engines, Diamond has clearly been anxious to bring the Austro alternative to market. Generally,
FAA certification follows relatively quickly once the EASA standard has been met. Diamond CEO Christian Dries said the EASA certification program cost about US $64 million. "The complete program
developed into one that was significantly more complex than originally anticipated," Dries said. "Only the full dedication of all participants, specifically the Austrian and European Airworthiness
Authorities, MB Tech, Bosch General Aviation Technologies and our employees, enabled the successful conclusion of the certification process." There are already 27 Diamond DA42 NG airplanes with AE 300
engines on the production line, the company said, and type certification for those aircraft is also expected imminently. Following will be AE 300 powered versions of the DA40 and the DA50. For the
existing diesel-engine-powered Diamond fleet, a retrofit solution to convert to AE 300 power will be developed and offered, the company said.
Dries and Thomas Mueller, general manager of Austro Engine, said in Wednesday's news release that they are confident of a good future for the companies, despite the current difficult times. For
more about the Austro engine, click here for a recent AVweb Insider blog post by AVweb Editorial Director Paul
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Although Duane Woerth, a former president of the Air Line Pilots Association, has long been considered a strong contender to take over as next FAA administrator, Senate aide Robert Herbert seems to be
making headway, the Washington Post reported on Monday. Herbert is an advisor to Sen.
Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader, and specializes in transportation, defense and security issues. Woerth is backed by the AFL-CIO. Senator Reid has sent a letter to the Obama transition
team expressing support for Herbert, according to the Post. Also, Herbert met last Thursday with Ray LaHood, on the same day he was appointed Transportation Secretary. Relations between unions and the
FAA have long been contentious, and LaHood has said that settling those issues will be a top priority for him.
Herbert may gain from delay, says Post columnist Al Kamen. "Each day, the
administration is going to find things to ask Reid's help on, and Reid, by coincidence, might find it opportune to ask how his pal Herbert is doing with that FAA job," says Kamen.
The Transportation Security Administration wrapped up the public hearings into its highly controversial Large Aircraft Security Program
(LASP) with a fifth and final session in Houston today (following a similar session in Chicago last week) and TSA reps heard more of the same from the GA community. In fact, if anything, rather than
calm the waters, the hearings appear to have whipped up even more opposition to the plan, which would mandate airline-style security procedures for aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds. "In this
brutal economy, everyone in every corner of general aviation will be impacted if this plan is enacted without significant changes," NBAA President Ed Bolen told the attendess at the Chicago meeting.
But while much of the focus has been on the impact on flight operations, hundreds of airports, some of which only occasionally see aircraft that big, will have to be set up to handle the security.
The TSA has compiled a list of airports that will be required to establish formal security procedures for larger GA aircraft, and it's a long one. (Click here to view the list as a PDF.)
Opponents of the proposal say many of the airports will be unable to fund the security apparatus and will be unavailable to larger private aircraft, reducing the utility that is the chief appeal of
private air travel. NBAA wants a rule-making committee established to review private aircraft security instead of the existing rule-making process.
Statistics on business aircraft identified by arrival and departure information on all IFR flights for December 2007 and compared
to December 2008 show a 22.8 percent drop, according to the Aviation Research Group/U.S. Inc., but there may be some surprises. The data includes both Alaska and Hawaii and segregated data between
Part 91, Part 135 and fractional operations. The steepest decline in activity was seen by Part 135 operators, which in 2008 dropped by one third versus the same month in the prior year. The steepest
decline came to Part 135 large-cabin jet aircraft (identified as those with a maximum takeoff weight of over 41,000 pounds), which saw a 44 percent decline in activity. On the opposite end of the
scale, Part 91 business aircraft operators as a group curtailed their activity by only 15.3 percent and showed the largest diversity in change by aircraft size, according to ARG/US. Small cabin jets
(MTOW under 20,000) flown under Part 91 and midsize-cabin jets suffered the least, falling just 6.3 percent, while turboprop business aircraft (both single- and multi-engine) took the largest hit for
the Part 91 category, chiming in with a 23.2 percent drop in activity. Fractionals told a slightly different story.
The business use of fractional aircraft fell by about 32 percent with small-cabin jets bringing the largest impact on the overall figure -- their use fell by more than 44 percent within the
fractional category. Just one step up in size, midsize-cabin jets used in fractional business operations fell by 24.3 percent.
Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?
Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.
Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."
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No, they're not ordering in pizza, though that might be part of the FAA's plan for the day. They're preparing to handle the large increase in GA traffic in the Tampa Bay area for the upcoming Super
Bowl, on Sunday, Feb. 1. The FAA expects that as many as 1,000 additional GA aircraft will use the area's airports over the weekend. If you plan to be in one of those aircraft, you can find out about
the FAA's air traffic plans at the FAA Web site. Pilots should also refer to Notams before flying into the area. Three separate TFRs will
be in place around Raymond James Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, and private pilots will not be allowed to fly near the stadium for several hours before, during and after the game. Click here for details of those TFR restrictions. The east-west runway (9/27) at Tampa International Airport will be closed for aircraft
parking. FAA air traffic controllers from the Tampa Tower will be deployed to FBOs at the airport to issue departure clearances. Extra FAA staff will be on duty through the weekend. Special procedures
are in place for helicopter operations. The FAA also has special procedures in place for parking and traffic management at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, Lakeland Linder Regional
Airport and Vandenberg Airport.
The FAA also will operate General Aviation Program (GAP) air traffic procedures for departures from Tampa Bay airports into high-altitude airspace immediately after the game. GAP enables air
traffic control to monitor the number of flights in Tampa airspace and meter flights by issuing expected departure times to flights as necessary, the FAA says.
A well-known British aviation photographer has been identified as the person killed in the crash of a Remos light sport aircraft at U.S.
Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla. on Sunday. Steven Fletcher was on assignment for Today's Pilot to do air-to-air photography of another
Remos aircraft, which was taking off behind the crash airplane. The pilot of the downed aircraft, Mike Kostelac, is a sales representative for the company and remains in hospital in stable condition.
Witnesses said the aircraft banked sharply before crashing on a ramp at the south end of the Sebring Airport.
Fletcher, 44, was from Baston, England and is survived by his wife and two children. He was an experienced aviation photographer. "He was a very popular aviation photographer who was very well
respected, experienced and known throughout the world of aviation," said Paul Hamblin, group publisher for Key Publications, which owns Today's Pilot. "He had done this many times before and knew
exactly what he was doing. He was working with the magazine's managing editor Dave Unwin, who is now working with the FAA and NTSB in the accident investigation.
An ATR-42 owned by FedEx crashed 300 feet short of the runway while on an ILS approach into Lubbock, Texas,
early Tuesday morning; both pilots on board walked away...
GA pilots are invited to take part in a research project about Notams this Saturday, Jan. 31. Just one meeting is required, from 10 to 4, at the airport in Midland, Va. Pilots can also participate
remotely via teleconference. Contact Cori White at (202) 403-5768 or email@example.com for more info...
Europe's trade show for secondhand aircraft, IMAS, will take place this year as part
of the AERO international aviation show in Friedrichshafen, in April...
EAA has set the dates for its 2009 B-17 Flying Fortress spring tour, which offers both ground visits and flight experiences in California and
several Western states.
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Despite a troubled economy, the fifth U.S. Sport Aviation Expo proved to be a must-see event. Some exhibitors scaled back a little, but everyone was represented. AVweb Editorial Director Paul
Bertorelli has some thoughts on this little bright spot amid all the economic turbulence; read them on the AVweb Insider blog.
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The $100 hamburger is nice, but sometimes you just need to get a little further away from the rat race. Last week, we asked AVweb readers where they'd most like to fly to get
away from it all.
The most popular getaway destination in our informal poll was the tropical island, cornering a full 44% of the votes. We could chide our readership for being a little predictable on
this one except, well, that was a pretty popular answer around the AVweb office, too.
For a complete (real-time) breakdown of reader responses, click here. (You may be asked to register and answer if you haven't already participated in this poll.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
After the Big Three automakers flew to Washington in their jets to request federal aid, private air travel in the name of business has become a touchy subject. With pressure to change
their ways, corporations are beginning to ask themselves how to move executives from one place to another if they're partaking of government aid. We'd like to hear what you think.
Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips
via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
As the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2009 gets underway in Sebring, Florida, Chairman Bob Wood talks with Aviation
Safety Editor-in-Chief Jeb Burnside. A quick preview of this year's show tells attendees what to expect and what they don't want to miss at the nation's premier sport pilot gathering.
The nation's showcase for light sport aircraft and the Sport Pilot program (U.S. Sport Aviation Expo 2009) kicks off in Sebring, Florida today. Tom Peghiny from Flight
Design joins Aviation Consumer Editor-in-Chief Paul Bertorelli to discuss the company's presence at the show and the state of
Kitplanes Editor-in-Chief Marc Cook talks with Neal Willford, Cessna Aircraft's project engineer on the 162
SkyCatcher. Neal was kind enough to share the inside scoop on the SkyCatcher's journey to market.
New to the world of LSA? One of the things you'll discover is that your engine choice makes a big difference, in terms of both weight and performance. For an overview of the three
top choices in the light sport segment, Marc Cook, Editor-in-Chief of Kitplanes magazine, visits Rotax, Jabiru, and Continental on
the grounds of the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida.
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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 ***
Great pics continue to trickle in from all across the globe, and (as always) "Picture of the Week" gives us an opportunity to show you what your fellow AVweb readers have been
Hayden Bryant of Fort Smith, Arkansas recently spent some time chatting with the "unexpected visitor" who dropped in to re-fuel. The Chinook crew
was "very friendly," writes Hayden, showing off their ride and making small talk before departing on their next mission. Hayden tells us, "This made our day!"
Chris Buckler of Atlanta, Georgia made good use of a long expoure at a flight school he attended a while back in Eastman, Georgia. Behind the
stationary Piper Seminole is another, similar Piper taxiing onto the ramp.
Drew Chaplin of Springvale, Victoria (Australia) made the trip to Australia's first annual Canard Fly-In in Mangalore and sent us a couple of nice
pics. This one (of course) was our fave.
(Maybe it's because we live on the other side of the globe and never get to go to any of this cool stuff but over the last few months, we've noticed that Australia has some
rocking airplane gatherings. Just sayin' ... .)
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.