AVwebFlash - Volume 15, Number 6b

February 12, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Reauthorization Debate Re-Energized back to top 

FAA Reauthorization Bill Back In Play

A new bill that would reauthorize the nation's aviation programs for another four years was introduced in the U.S. House on Monday. The bill does not call for any new aviation user fees, and would authorize nearly $70 billion in spending for the FAA through 2012. "This legislation is long overdue," said U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. "Short-term funding extensions and continuing resolutions have led to delays in critical capital projects. Timely passage is needed to sustain FAA's programs and keep the FAA moving forward on airport development and the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)." Oberstar added that despite the past delays, he believes the new bill will move forward quickly. "We have a new President and a new Congress," he told EAA. "This time we'll get the job done." The bill was the subject of a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon.

The bill in its current form would authorize $16 billion in spending for the Airport Improvement Program, $13 billion for FAA facilities and equipment, $39 billion for FAA operations, and $1.35 billion for research, engineering and development.

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Wait, Bizjets Are Good for Something (Business!) back to top 

Hawker Beechcraft Joins Biz Defense

Hawker Beechcraft has launched an ad campaign promoting business aviation but it's taken a different tack from Cessna's challenge to CEOs to keep their jets. Instead, Hawker Beechcraft is recommending CEOs to ditch their jets—and buy a King Air. "If the three Detroit CEOs had arrived in Washington in the Beechcraft King Air 350, they might have received a warmer reception from their legislative hosts," the company says in a cheeky reference to the incident that started the latest backlash against the use of business aircraft. Beech isn't afraid to name names in its comparison of the King Air's speed and fuel efficiency in comparison to the jets used by the CEOs and also claims the latest incarnation of the venerable turboprop is the "world's greenest and highly efficient aircraft."

Hawker Beechcraft's ad campaign comes literally a few hours after Cessna launched a controversial series of ads that directly challenged the perceptions of business aircraft as luxurious perks. Hawker Beechcraft is taking a lighter tone but its message isn't much different. "We are having a little fun with the Detroit CEOs in this advertisement," said Charles Mayer, Hawker Beech's vice president of marketing. "More importantly, this is an opportunity to show a sensible way for this type of business travel and the value of the aircraft manufacturing industry. Our industry not only offers valuable business tools that dramatically increase efficiency, it also contributes $150 billion annually to the U.S. economy and employs more than one million Americans."

Cessna Fights Back With Pro-Jet Ads

Cessna, along with the rest of the bizjet industry, has been watching its orders tank in the last two months, and on Wednesday the company launched a counterattack to all the bad publicity that started with those auto execs flying to Washington, hats in hand, in their cushy corporate jets. A new Web site and an intensive ad campaign aim to make it OK again -- even imperative -- for the captains of industry to fly. "Today, we are demanding business leaders and managers work at their absolute peak to turn their companies, and our economy, around," said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. "We think it's time the other side of the story be told, and that support be given to those businesses with the good judgment and courage to use business aviation to not only help their businesses survive the current financial crisis, but more quickly forge a path toward an economic upturn." Cessna is calling its new initiative "The Leadership Campaign," and the first ad says: "In today's corporate world, pity the poor executive who blinks. The good news is, in trying times like these, fortune tends to favor those who make bold, decisive moves." One blogger, at gawker.com, characterized the campaign as, "Only wimps give up their jets." Cessna, which has downsized its staff by about one-third due to the downturn, has allocated more than half its advertising budget to the campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"The reality of business aviation is a far cry from the misconception of CEOs flying in large luxurious airplanes," Pelton said. "Most of these aircraft are fairly Spartan, designed for business, with a cabin about the size of a minivan or SUV interior." About 85 percent of business aircraft are used by small- or medium-sized companies, Pelton said, and the large majority of the passengers are middle managers and technicians. Most of the fleet consists of single- and twin-engine propeller and turboprop aircraft and small- or medium-sized jets, he said. The Cessna ad campaign will target national business newspapers and magazines as well as aviation trade publications. Click here to view a PDF of the first ad in the series.

Related Content:
AVweb Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles responds to Pelton's comments on the AVweb Insider blog

What Cessna Is Up Against: A "New Reality"

Click for video of the Falcon 7X interior

Here's an example of what Cessna's campaign is up against -- on Wednesday, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit apologized during a U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing for almost taking delivery on a $50 million Falcon 7X bizjet. "I would also like to say something about the airplane that was in the news," he said, the Washington Tribune reported. "We did not adjust quickly enough to this new world, and I take personal responsibility for that mistake. In the end, I cancelled delivery. We need to do a better job of acknowledging and embracing the new realities. Let me be clear with the committee: I get the new reality and I will make sure Citi gets it as well." Of course, Citigroup is subject to extra public scrutiny, since it accepted billions in federal bailout funds. Pandit was one of eight CEOs who traveled to Capitol Hill on Wednesday via Amtrak and commercial flights, trying to show that they understand they are no longer entitled to such perks as private jet travel.

Rep. Barney Frank, who chaired the hearing, asked the bank CEOs to recognize how they are now viewed by the masses: "In the interest of getting the system working again, I urge you strongly to cooperate with us -- not grudgingly, not doing the minimum, but understanding that there is a substantial public anger," he said.

Aircraft Spruce Exhibits at WAA Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show
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Speaking of "Forging Ahead" back to top 

Icon, Sherpa Move Forward With New Airplanes

The aviation industry may be going through tough times right now, but that's not stopping entrepreneurs from moving forward with new projects. Icon Aircraft, based in southern California, announced this week that its Icon A5 amphibious light-sport aircraft has completed its phase-one flight testing. The A5 has a folding-wing design to make it easier to store or transport by trailer, and was created by a team that included automobile designers as well as aircraft engineers who previously worked at Scaled Composites. So far, the aircraft has completed a series of 27 flights, and data was gathered across a wide range of speeds, gross weights, centers of gravity, flap settings, altitudes and sea states. "While there are areas to be further optimized, as with any flight test program, the A5, overall, performed as designed and is a blast to fly," reported lead engineer and test pilot Jon Karkow. The A5 prototype demonstrated exceptional water stability and handling, easy takeoff and landing performance, as well as light control forces with responsive yet docile flight characteristics, the company said. The estimated base price of the A5 is $139,000, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2010.

At Sherpa Aircraft, in Scappoose, Ore., the company is moving forward with flight testing of its prototype turboprop eight-place utility aircraft. The versatile taildragger can take off and land in about 100 feet, the company says, and carry a useful load of up to 3,000 pounds. The first 12 Sherpas will be sold in kit form and produced under a builder-assist program at the Oregon site. Base price for the Sherpa with a factory-remanufactured 5400 TBO Honeywell-5 engine ready to fly is $850,000. The airplane comes equipped with tundra tires, with fittings for skis and floats as standard equipment.

Branson: Boeing, Bikinis, Bitching -- And Booming

While everyone else in the aviation world seems to be in a dark and deepening slump, none of that is rubbing off on Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson. The irrepressible Brit brought his retinue of Virgin execs to Seattle the other day clad in T-shirts and shorts, while female cabin attendants sported bikinis, despite the damp and chilly weather. He was there to take delivery of a 777-300ER that is the launch vehicle for his newest airline, V Australia. But he made it clear -- painfully clear, no doubt, to Boeing executives -- that he wasn't happy about the delivery delay. He said the new airline was ready to go last Christmas, but had to wait for airplanes, due to the strike at Boeing. "The strike hurt hundreds of thousands of our passengers," Branson told reporters. "It messed up Virgin Atlantic, it messed up Virgin Blue in Australia, it ruined people's Christmas holidays. It was absolutely and utterly ghastly." He certainly didn't brighten Boeing's day when he added: "If union leaders and management can't get their act together to avoid strikes, we're not going to come back here again. We're already thinking, 'Would we ever risk putting another order with Boeing?' It's that serious." Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx later told reporters, "We never want to disappoint our customers to such an extent. We are committed to doing everything we can in the future to satisfy our customers in the manner they deserve." As for Virgin, it seems unaffected by the current worldwide slump, and while other companies are cutting staff right and left, Branson is looking to hire. "We have just launched our new group-wide careers site," he announces in his latest blog post. "We have roles in offices, on shop floors, in call centres, gyms, on trains and planes, in resorts and across different geographies. From customer service to finance to product development to sales ... and much more."

The new 777 will fly its first revenue flight on Feb. 27, from Sydney to Los Angeles. On Monday, a columnist with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said Boeing should pay attention to Sir Richard, and everyone in Seattle owes him thanks. "Given the astounding array of companies under his management -- transportation, retailing, entertainment and leisure, media -- Branson could hardly be expected to also run an airplane manufacturer," wrote columnist Bill Virgin. "But maybe he should."

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Piper Cuts Another 300 Jobs

Citing a "deepening global recession," Piper Aircraft, based in Vero Beach, Fla., abruptly laid off another 300 workers on Tuesday. "People aren't buying planes," Piper spokesman Mark Miller said in a statement. "Similar to many other businesses, general aviation has been experiencing one of the worst downturns in its history, and sales of airplanes have sharply deteriorated over the past few months. These unforeseeable business circumstances are virtually unprecedented and have caused the company to take agonizing and painful actions." The workers were laid off effective immediately, and several of them spoke with local reporters as they left the plant. "I am still in shock," Robert Krauss, who worked for Piper for three years, told TCPalm. "I am worried about my house, my kids, my wife. ... I don't know what we're going to do." Miller said the company regrets the pain caused by the layoffs, and added that Piper will do all it can to rehire impacted employees when the economy improves. But meanwhile, the 650-plus workers who remain can expect a one-week furlough in April and another one in July, without pay, to prevent the buildup of unnecessary inventory. These shutdowns will affect everyone in the company, including management, Miller said. "If market conditions continue to deteriorate, it may be necessary for the company to take additional actions," he added. Piper will do "everything possible" to preserve its remaining jobs and ensure the company remains viable, Miller said.

In 2007, Piper received a total of $10.7 million as the first installment on $32 million in incentives from the state and county, meant to keep the planemaker in Vero Beach -- but continuing payments are based on the company maintaining minimum employment levels. On Dec. 24, the company said it would defer the next installment and CEO Jim Bass said it's unclear when that might change. "While we're not sure about how the economy will turn out, we may delay the second payment until the economy improves," Bass said last month.

Related Content:
Podcast interview with Mark Miller

Cessna For Sale?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that Textron CEO Lewis Campbell told an investment conference on Tuesday that the corporation may have to sell either Cessna or Bell Helicopter to cover losses by its financial arm. Campbell told a Barclays Capital conference in Miami Beach that the company needs to raise $1 billion in the first of this year and that means one of the aviation units could be put on the block. Which will go will likely depend on which has the most perceived value. Both companies are cutting back in the face of decreased demand.

Cessna has announced layoffs totaling 4,600 in the last couple of months because of sharp declines in new orders and big increases in the number of order deferrals in its backlog. But Bell is also having problems. Last week it lost a $6 billion military order, although it still has a backlog of military orders. Business has slowed on the civilian side, however, and it recently announced layoffs and production cuts at its Mirabel, Quebec plant.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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."

Are You An Air Safety Ace? Test Your Skills Now
In aviation, you've got a split second to make the right decision. Put your safety skills to the test and take the Air Safety Foundation's online safety quiz. New quizzes are posted every other week — on topics from icing and stall/spin awareness to emergency procedures and more. Quizzes only take minutes to complete — minutes that could save your life. Take the ASF Air Safety Quiz now.
Meanwhile, in Orbit Around the Earth ... back to top 

Midspace Collision Takes Out Iridium Satellite

As improbable as a midair collision is, the chance of two satellites finding each other is, well, astronomical. But it happened in the sky over Siberia Tuesday when a dead Russian spacecraft and a perfectly functional and likely highly expensive Iridium communications satellite turned into about 600 pieces (at last count) of orbital space junk. "They collided at an altitude of 790 kilometers (491 miles) over northern Siberia Tuesday about noon Washington time," Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris at the Johnson Space Center in Houston told CBS News "The U.S. space surveillance network detected a large number of debris from both objects."

The Air Force identified the Russian spacecraft as a communications relay station that was launched in 1993 and has been dead for at least 10 years. The 1,500 pound Iridium satellite was busy doing its job of relaying satellite phone signals when the accident occurred. Iridium said the loss of the satellite had "minimal impact" on service and will replace it with one of its in-orbit spares. The company has 66 operational satellites and an unspecified number of spares in orbit. As for who hit who, Brig. Gen. Michael Carey told CBS that space is the final frontier of traffic control. "They ran into each other. Nothing has the right of way up there," he said. "We don't have an air traffic controller in space. There is no universal way of knowing what's coming in your direction."

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News Briefs back to top 

On the Fly ...

The FAA will impose a TFR over Chicago this weekend as President Barack Obama visits the city...

Heli Expo coming up, Feb. 22-24, in Anaheim, Calif....

A new documentary film in the works, A Pilot's Story, aims to inspire the next generation of aviators...

Tutor.com, Careers in Aviation, and Jamail Larkins have combined forces to offer a new $1,000 learn-to-fly scholarship.

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New on AVweb back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Pelton Gets to the Point

While the world waits for a miracle from the trillions of dollars government is pouring into economic stimulus, Cessna's Jack Pelton is urging the industry to get busy and get flying. AVweb Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles thinks that's a good, and he explains why in the latest edition of our AVweb Insider blog.

Read more.

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

Question of the Week: Walk a Mile in the Airplane Makers' Shoes ...

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked if the FAA should take a closer look at helicopter EMS procedures and perhaps create a new class of regulations.

The largest single segment of respondents (39% of you) said existing regulations are fine; they just need to be enforced — but if we group those of you who anwered with an unqualified yes and those who thought EMS regulations could be a subset of existing regulations together, then we find that even more of you (43%) are in favor of stronger regulation.

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.)


There's no question about it: Washington is down on bizjets. Now that major airplane makers like Cessna and Hawker are mounting campaigns to remind everyone why companies use them, we thought a little armchair quarterbacking might be in order. This week, we invite you to picture yourself as the head of a major airplane manufacturer, and tell us how you'd respond to the current climate:

What would you do if you were CEO of a bizjet maker?
(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.

Online Aircraft-Specific Ground Schools
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, through its Office of Professional Education, now offers a series of aircraft-specific ground schools: Boeing 737 Classic — NG, 747, 757, 767 and 777; as well as Airbus 319, 320, 330 and 340; and the Bombardier CRJ 200. For a complete list, visit Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's web site at ERAU.edu/professionaleducation.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video: JetLev-Flyer Water-Powered Jet Pack

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

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. Video Editor Glenn Pew has the skinny.

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.

Exclusive Video: Are LED Lights Bright Enough?

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

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.

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.

AERO Friedrichshafen — The Best Place for Your Business
AERO Friedrichshafen is the premier European trade show for the General Aviation industry. Starting in 2009, AERO will take place annually. Situated in Central Europe, within the border—triangle of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, AERO is the ideal platform for the European General Aviation market. In addition, Messe Friedrichshafen is one of the most modern fairgrounds in Europe. If you want to do business in Europe, you have to be there! Go online for complete information.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Million Air (KALB, Albany, New York)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Million Air's facility at KALB in Albany, New York. AVweb reader Victoria LeBlanc brought this location to our attention, noting how the staff treats everyone as if they were a VIP guest.

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!

Q: What's the Difference Between a $10,000 Annual and a $2,500 Annual?

Mike Busch and his team of seasoned maintenance professionals are saving their aircraft-owner clients thousands of dollars a year in parts and labor — not to mention hours of hassle — by providing professional maintenance management for owner-flown singles and twins. Learn how they do it.
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.


We were a bit worried that delaying last week's installment of "POTW" to Monday would leave us with a thin selection this week — but we should've known better. AVweb weren't discouraged by the delay, and we've got a great assortment of photos to share with you this week.

medium | large

Used with permission of Sam Brown

Vietnam Combat Choppers

Sam Brown of Panama City, Florida takes the top spot with a photo straight out of the "Is-That-What-I-Think-I'm-Seeing?" file. According to Sam, these two Hueys (spaced with separator bars) were being evacuated for maintenance "at Chu Lai, sometime around the 1968 Tet."

While the photo is a little worn, we were immediately struck with the odd nature of the operation — and Sam's comment: "This was an experimental rig. (It worked!)"

medium | large

Used with permission of Kevin Bradford

The Sun Shines in the Cockpit As It Sets Behind Us

Kevin Bradford of Dubuque, Iowa puts natural light and a good angle to great use in his Piper Navajo. (This one makes a great desktop wallpaper, but be careful — we've already lost track of a couple of icons amongst all those gauges.)

medium | large

Used with permission of Chris Loemker

Short Final at KGRE

You know what we haven't seen much of in recent months? Great black-and-white submissions. Chris Loemker of Collinsville, Illinois to the rescue!

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copyright © Martin Robinson
Used with permission

'50s Dawn in Devon

Martin Robinson of Dolton, Devon (U.K.) served up this incredible pairing from a local fly-in. Thanks to Martin for identifying both the 1954 Auster ("prototype AOP9") and Jaguar C.

medium | large

copyright © Contributor #5
Used with permission

Sunrise at Compass Hill

Lindy Kirkland of Fredericksburg, Virginia braved the morning cold (-8 Fahrenheit!) to snap this shot ahead of a flight as part of an EAA Chapter Leader Academy.

We'd like to give you a little longer to see the photos we put up in our home page slideshow over the weekend, sooo —we're leaving the current slideshow photos up until Friday morning. If you missed Monday's bonus photos, do yourself a favor and head over to AVweb's home page after you're finished here. Then come back at lunchtime on Friday for even more bonus pics that couldn't fit into this issue.

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.

eBooks & eVideos
Most titles on the AVweb Bookstore (including Jeppesen, McGraw-Hill, ICAO, and many others) are also available as electronic downloads. Why not consider an eBook in Adobe .PDF format? Instant delivery. No shipping costs. Fully searchable, bookmarked, and hyperlinked. Hundreds of reference titles at your fingertips, in your laptop computer. Environmentally friendly. And no import taxes to international customers. Are you sold yet? Click here to learn more, and download a sample to try it out.
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.