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EXAMINES HELICOPTER EMS SAFETY
The NTSB on Tuesday opened a
four-day hearing on the safety of helicopter emergency medical services.
The goal is for the board to learn more about HEMS operations so it can
better evaluate the factors that cause accidents. "In the last six
years, we have seen 85 HEMS accidents, resulting in 77 fatalities,"
board member Robert Sumwalt, who is chairing the hearing, said in
opening remarks on Tuesday. "The recent accident record is alarming and
it is unacceptable." 2008 was the deadliest year in HEMS on record, with
13 EMS helicopter accidents and 29 fatalities. The board is hearing
sworn testimony from expert witnesses including pilots, medical
personnel, managers and the FAA. On Tuesday, they heard from Dr. Ira
Blumen, of the University of Chicago Hospitals, who said the average
fatality rate for HEMS crews over the last 10 years was higher even than
for high-risk occupations such as fishing and logging. The death rate
for passengers, however, is much lower. Over 29 years, he said, 4.5
million patients were flown by HEMS, and 34 died in accidents. The panel
also heard from several others, including Sylvain Sequin of Canada, who
said there has never been a fatal accident in HEMS operations in Canada,
where 20 helicopters are engaged in such work. Sumwalt said the board's
aim is to better understand the factors that cause accidents so they can
be prevented in the future. Possible courses of action resulting from
the hearing include an updated safety study on EMS operations,
additional safety recommendations, or a white paper for use when
advocating or testifying on EMS safety issues. Written testimony and
webcast archives can be found at the NTSB Web site. More...
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BAILED-OUT COMPANIES MUST JUSTIFY PERKS AND PLANES
part of his plan to ensure that federal stimulus funds are properly
spent, President Barack Obama announced a pay cap on Wednesday for executives at
firms receiving help from U.S. taxpayers. Further, he said, "Companies
receiving federal aid are going to have to disclose publicly all the
perks and luxuries bestowed upon senior executives, and provide an
explanation to the taxpayers and to shareholders as to why these
expenses are justified." While flight departments were not specifically
cited, they seem unlikely to escape this scrutiny. The "populist fury"
against bailed-out corporations and banks "has been fueled by accounts
of bonuses [and] the use of private jets," according to Bloomberg News. The National Business Aviation
Association is working to counter the impact of the negative press for
the industry. In a letter sent to President Obama last week, NBAA
President Ed Bolen wrote: "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."
CHARTER EXECUTIVES FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES IN 2005 CRASH
executives who ran Platinum Jet Management, based in Fort Lauderdale,
Fla., are facing federal criminal charges in connection with the crash
of a Bombardier Challenger CL-600 that ran off the departure end of a
Teterboro, N.J., runway in February 2005, the New Jersey Star Ledger reported on Wednesday. The
airplane crashed through a fence, crossed a highway, then hit a
building. Four people -- the two pilots and two people in a car -- were
seriously hurt and the nine others on board as well as one person on the
ground also were injured. In court documents cited by the Star Ledger,
federal authorities said company officials falsified flight records,
routinely overloaded planes with fuel, and misrepresented the company to
customers as a certified charter operation. "The fuel loading was the
primary contributing factor in the crash," acting U.S. Atty. Ralph Marra
Jr. told the Star Ledger. "It is astounding -- and criminal -- that
owners and operators of jet aircraft would repeatedly engage in such a
dangerous game with passengers and airplanes loaded to the brim with jet
fuel. What this indictment alleges is an anything-goes attitude by the
defendants to get their planes in the air and maximize profits without
regard to passenger safety or compliance with basic regulations."
According to the indictment, the Star Ledger says, Platinum instructed
its pilots to falsify weight-and-balance graphs, and flew more than 25
commercial charter flights with weights that exceeded aircraft center of
gravity limits. More...
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BEECHCRAFT CUTS 2,300 JOBS
Adding to the thousands of jobs
already lost over the last few weeks to aviation businesses in Wichita,
Beechcraft CEO Jim Schuster announced on Tuesday that at least 2,300
jobs will be cut at his company. In a letter to employees published at
the local KSN.com news site, Schuster said, "We are
undoubtedly facing one of the most severe tests in our company's
history." He cited global economic decline as the cause of declining
orders and deliveries. In addition, he said, the government's stimulus
package has failed to loosen up credit markets and orders from
fractional markets have declined "considerably." He also blamed "the
media and some politicians" for characterizing general aviation as "a
wasteful extravagance instead of a critical business tool and the source
of millions of American jobs." He added that with no end in sight to
global market volatility, he could offer no assurance that there won't
be further reductions. Hawker is the third-largest employer in Wichita,
with about 7,500 employees. The company also employs 2,000 others
worldwide, to build a range of aircraft from business jets to piston
singles and the T-6 military trainer. More...
LSA BRIGHT SPOT
Amid all the news of job cuts and downturns,
the light sport aircraft sector just keeps on cranking. Dan Johnson,
chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, estimates that
about 11,500 people attended the Sebring Sport
Aviation Expo just over a week ago in Florida, a new record for the
show, and about 20 airplanes, worth about $2.5 million, were sold over
the four-day event. "Every exhibitor I spoke to will return for Sebring
No. 6 in 2010," Johnson wrote at his
blog. In addition, he announced that two new regional LSA shows will
be held this year -- the HOT (Heart of Texas) LSA Show will be held in
March in Bryan, Texas, and the Midwest LSA Show will follow in October,
in Mount Vernon, Ill. Johnson also noted that two new U.S.-built LSAs
made their debuts at the show: M-Squared's
Breese 2 and RANS's
S-6 Coyote. The Breese, built in Alabama, sells for just $34,995, fully
built from the factory. The Coyote is a ready-to-fly version of an
airplane that has been one of the top-selling homebuilts, with almost
2,000 copies in the air. Other new aircraft introduced at the show were
the Flaeming Air FA-04 Peregrin, built in Germany and imported by Hansen Air
Group in Georgia, and the Skyteton K-10, built in the Ukraine.
BRIGHT SPOT - LANCAIR MOVING TO LARGER FACILITY
Lancair announced on
Wednesday that it will be moving its company headquarters, in Bend,
Ore., to a bigger facility near the Redmond Airport. The new building,
at 38,000 square feet, is 50 percent larger than the current building
and has room for continued growth, the company said. Demand for the
Evolution, the company's latest pressurized 330-knot turboprop kit
airplane, remains strong, Lancair said, with lead times out to five
months. The new facility will allow the company to ramp up production of
the Evolution kit as well as develop new projects, such as the military
trainer kit announced earlier
this week. The company will commence the move in February and it
will be completed by April 1. Lancair General Manager Tim Ong told the
Bend Bulletin this week that not only is the company
growing, it's hiring. More...
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ENGINE: MORE POWER, LESS FUEL
Tagging on to the gains
Mercedes Benz has made in the automotive diesel field, Austro's new
aerodieseljust certified last weekappears to produce more
power while using less fuel than did the Thielert Centurion engines it
will replace. Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, reports
in its March issue that the new Austro AE 300 produces 168 HP at a brake
specific fuel consumption of .36 pounds of fuel per hour, at bit better
than the .38 delivered by the Thielert engines. Diamond says about 27
new DA42 NG Twin Stars are already fitted with the new engines. Diamond
has announced an aggressive program to re-engine existing DA42 and
DA40TDIs with Austro, but it won't happen quickly. Diamond's Peter
Maurer told AVweb this week that approvals for engine conversions
won't be done until later in the year. More...
XL2 MOST EFFICIENT IFR AIRCRAFT?
Liberty Aerospace, of
Melbourne, Fla., this week threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the
aviation world, claiming that its XL2 is the world's most efficient
IFR trainer and touring aircraft, after a flight test conducted last
month achieved an efficiency of 21.208 nm per gallon over a 165-nm
course. "With standard equipment and no special pre-planning for weather
or winds, we showed what can be done in real-world everyday conditions,"
said Paul Everitt, business development manager for Liberty. The flight
followed a loop from Spruce Creek to Hernando County Airport in Central
Florida, at a cruising altitude of 7,500 feet, with power set at 50
percent and an RPM of 2350. Maximum power was used in the climb and 30
to 40 percent power for the descent, the company said. Average fuel burn
per hour was 4.686 gallons with an average speed of 106 knots. "For the
GA industry to grow, light aircraft manufacturers must produce
efficient, fully-certified two-place aircraft that allow flight schools
and individuals to continue flying while remaining profitable," said
Everitt. "We challenge the aviation industry to beat our record of being
the most fuel-efficient and environmentally acceptable Part 23 IFR
certified aircraft available today." More...
SELLS 25 MILITARY TRAINER KITS
Lancair announced on Tuesday
that it will provide 25 modified Legacy FG kits to be assembled in
Colombia and used for primary flight training by the Colombian Air
Force. The aircraft, known as the Synergy, has a 15% bigger wing,
leading edge cuffs, and ventral fin than the standard model. The company
says mods make the aircraft "quite docile," but adds it still has plenty
of get-up-and-go. Lancair, through its Colombian partner SudAir
Corporation, will provide the kits to Colombian Aviation Industry Corp.
(CIAC), which will build them for the air force. "This initial agreement
is a result of over two years of negotiations ...," said Lancair
President Joe Bartels. "We will provide molds, fixtures, jigs,
materials, technical support and composite training to CIAC for purposes
of its construction of the initial 25 aircraft." More...
OFFERS ROUND-TRIP DISCOUNTS
Every air traveler knows it pays
to book in advance, and Flexjet is rewarding customers who make
efficient use of their fractionally-owned aircraft with a 15% reduction
in the cost of qualifying round trips. Flexjet says it's the first to
offer this kind of incentive to customers making quick-turnaround trips,
and the company expects it to be popular. "We expect this not to be a
limited time offer," said Sylvain Levesque, Flexjet's vice president of
AVWEB'S BUSINESS AVIATION NEWSLETTER
Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly
business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?
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." More...
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BENEFIT AIRSHOW ROSTER CONTINUES TO GROW
Since we last spoke
with the organizers of the upcoming benefit airshow for the Alan Henley
here for a podcast of AVweb's interview with Bobbi Thompson
last December), the lineup has grown to include a long list of who's who
in the airshow world. "I think we can say with confidence this will be
the finest and largest-ever group of North American airshow performers
to appear in one show," Thompson told AVweb this week. The list
of performers is at 30 and still growing, and includes Patty Wagstaff,
Sean Tucker, the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, Greg Poe, Gene Soucy, Red
Thunder, the Iron Eagles, and many more. "All proceeds from ticket and
raffle sales will go to the Foundation and all donated monies will be
given as well," Thompson says. Everyone involved in the show is paying
their own expenses and donating their time, Thompson said, so the only
costs to be covered will be fuel, oil, and some other minimal expenses.
The show will be held at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Fla., April 18 and
19. Tickets are $10, $5 for children 6 to 12, and free for children
under 6. Tickets will soon be available online at the show's Web site. Henley,
who was the lead pilot for the Aeroshell team, was paralyzed
in a fall at home last year just before EAA AirVenture, and is still
undergoing extensive rehabilitation. More...
BULL ANNOUNCES 2009 AIR RACE LINEUP
Red Bull this week
announced its plans for this year's series of air races, with an
expanded roster of 15 pilots but only six locations, down from eight
last year. This year's series will skip Australia, London, and the
Netherlands, but adds a stop in Barcelona, Spain. The Detroit venue has
shifted slightly across the border to Windsor, Ontario. Other sites for
2009 include Abu Dhabi, San Diego, Budapest, and Portugal. A rumored
extra stop on the U.S. East Coast apparently didn't work out. The
expanded pilot field will compete in a new race format that includes a
"wild card" session to open race day. "The new race format is yet
another big step forward for the Red Bull Air Race World Championship,"
said Heinz Moeller, aviation director for Red Bull. "Pure racing is
guaranteed, and the emphasis will be on pilot skill because all the
pilots will be racing straight after each other against the clock." The
four new pilots are Pete McLeod, of Canada; Yoshihide Muroya, of Japan;
Matt Hall, of Australia, and Matthias Dolderer, of Germany.
THE FLY ...
NTSB found no mechanical problems with Flight
1549's engines and confirmed bird remains in both engines...
Acquisition, which bought the assets of Adam Aircraft, is looking for a
partner to help build the A700 jet...
The airplane crash that killed
Buddy Holly was 50 years ago this week; ASF provides an
The FAA on Tuesday released an update to its plans for
the next-generation national airspace system..
.Two people died when
the wing of a Piper Cub hit the Jeep they were riding in and they drove
into a tree...
The NTSB wants FAA to enhance its oversight of
offshore helicopter operators...
The Lindbergh Foundation named
recipients of the 2009 Lindbergh Awards. More...
Sun 'n Fun It's Like
Spring Break for Pilots
Scheduled for April 21-26 in Lakeland, Florida.
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includes more than 4,500 airplanes, 500 commercial exhibitors, over 400
educational forums, seminars, and hands-on workshops for virtually every
aviation interest. Plus a spectacular daily air show. All included in
your ticket price. Special online-only discounts.
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OF THE WEEK: SPECIAL REGULATION FOR HEMS FLIGHTS?
extractions by helicopter have been under a
lot of scrutiny lately, leading some to question whether specific
regulations are in order. This week, we'd like to hear your
Plus: Last week, we asked how companies
receiving federal bailout money should handle air travel in the current
climate; click through to read what AVweb readers had to say on
the subject. More...
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VIDEO: ARE LED LIGHTS BRIGHT ENOUGH?
Judge for yourself by viewing AVweb's
latest product report video. Editorial director Paul Bertorelli
demonstrates traditional incandescent bulbs, HIDs, and new-age LEDs. The
results are revealing. (Click through to watch.) More...
VIDEO: JETLEV-FLYER WATER-POWERED JET PACK
Fly on water thrust this new
jet pack idea may not be the best way to get to work, but it sure does
look like a good time. The German company MS Watersports GmbH is
marketing the JetLev-Flyer and selling it (lessons included) for about
$128,000 or just about what a brand-new two-seat 120-mph light
sport aircraft costs. (Click through to watch.) More...
OF THE WEEK: PEAK AVIATION CENTER (COS, COLORADO SPRINGS,
your opinions and recommendations, so please continue to tell us about
great FBOs you visit throughout North America by clicking here and
filling out our nomination form.
Our latest "FBO of the Week"
ribbon goes to Peak
Aviation Center at KCOS in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
of all the great FBO stories you've submitted in the last couple of
weeks, this one knocked a bit of the winter chill from our hearts and
reminded us of why we love certain small FBOs. AVweb reader
Nick Ruemker calls Peak "one of the best FBO operations I have
The service is always top-notch, and the
staff is always prepared to help in any way possible. The owner, Pat
Carlile, even took his own time to do a checkout with me. It didn't even
seem to bother him that the only time I could do the checkout was at
nearly 8 p.m., [when] it was pitch black. However, the service and
hospitality are by no means the most impressive part of this
Pat has founded an organization which both gives
back to the local community and serves the general aviation community.
It is called High
Hopes For Teens, and their mission is to assist special needs,
physically disabled, and disadvantaged children as well as children with
parents killed or wounded in combat. It is a non-profit organization
funded from a very small FBO. They teach these kids about aviation and
how to fly. ... This is a program that can change these children's lives
and keep them out of trouble, all the while giving them the opportunity
that many of them would never have been able to dream of without Peak
Pat, as well as his co-owner and director,
Allen Mathews, are a true inspiration of what flying has given many of
us and an excellent example of how we should all strive to give back to
this wonderful community. I hope you will look at their
link and spread the word about this wonderful
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in
the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here
next Monday! More...
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OF THE WEEK ... WILL RETURN ON MONDAY
What, no "Picture of
the Week" today?!
We're afraid that it's true technical
difficulties made it impossible to sort through this week's photos by
press time. But don't despair. We've got plenty of awesome
reader-submitted photos in the queue, and we'll be running them in a
special edition of "POTW" on Monday. In the meantime, don't forget to keep sending your
photos, as we've already closed out the submission box for this week
and started a fresh one for next Thursday. (Just because we're a few
hours late, that doesn't mean you get the week off not if you
want to have a double dose of "POTW"!) More...
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.
AVwebFlash team is:
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
Have a product or service to advertise
on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's
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
Navigate. Communicate. More...