AVwebFlash - Volume 15, Number 12a

March 23, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Tragedy Dominates Weekend Headlines back to top 
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PC-12 Crash May Have Killed 17

photo by Jerry Search

An FAA spokesman is quoted by the New York Times as saying as many as 17 people, many of them children, were on board a 12-seat Pilatus PC-12 and all died when the aircraft crashed and exploded in a cemetery in Butte, Montana on Sunday. Les Dorr told the Times that 14 to 17 people were on the aircraft, which left Oroville, Calif., 70 miles north of Sacramento, Calif. for Bozeman, Mont.. The plane diverted to Butte en route and crashed within 500 feet of the airport. The reason for the diversion has not been released but Butte would have been a closer alternative if the pilot had been experiencing problems. According to FlightAware, the flight originated at Brown Field in San Diego and made three stops before the crash.

Local media is reporting that the aircraft was loaded with children heading for a ski vacation. The aircraft involved was owned by Eagle Cap Leasing, of Enterprise, Ore., and had reportedly been rented. The crash aircraft was certified for 12 occupants, including pilots. It's not clear whether there was a co-pilot on board. The NTSB has sent investigators and more details are expected Monday.

Two Dead In FedEx MD-11 Crash

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The pilots aboard a FedEx MD-11 died when the aircraft crashed during a hard landing at Tokyo Narita Airport on Sunday. An airport video camera shows the aircraft landing hard and porpoising before the left wing drags and a fire ensues. Weather was clear but strong crosswinds were reported. Media reports said the crew was from the U.S. The flight originated in Guangzhou in southern China.

Imeson Found Dead In Wreckage

Officials in Montana found a Cessna 180 flown by Sparky Imeson, author of the Mountain Flying Bible and he died in the crash. The plane had been missing since Tuesday afternoon. Imeson was reportedly alone aboard the airplane, and his last known radar position was about 18 miles north of Bozeman, Mont., at about 2:23 p.m., over the Big Belt Mountains. He had taken off from Bozeman with a destination of Helena, about an hour's flight away. The wreckage was found about two miles from a private airstrip in Canyon Ferry, Mont.

The wreckage was discovered about 9:45 a.m. Imeson and another pilot survived a crash in the Elkhorn Mountains in June 2007. In that crash, Imeson tried to walk out of the mountains to find help, but was found by rescuers. Friends of Imeson say he was heading to the site of the 2007 crash when his plane went down last week.

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Bringing Them to Market, Part I back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Boeing: 787 "On Schedule," Has 878 Orders

The sixth and final 787 Dreamliner test aircraft is in final assembly at Boeing's Everett, Wash., facility as the first test aircraft gets final paint and analysts continue to apply their doubts. The aircraft's release to customers is almost two years behind schedule and some analysts are not ready to accept that Boeing will meet its plans to start shipping the aircraft early next year. The company, however, is hoping for first flight this summer. The all-composite airliner represents a departure from prior production lines and so many observers suspect that small (or large) issues may creep up during the flight-test process, causing further delays. For now, Boeing says the aircraft is moving well through testing and there are assemblies for 31 more aircraft already in the supply chain. The economy has caused some order cancellations, according to the company, but 878 aircraft are still due to 57 customers worldwide.

Boeing is offering the 787 in configurations that seat anywhere from 210 to 330 passengers, optimized for routes ranging anywhere from 2,500 to 8,500 nautical miles and while using 20 percent less fuel "than today's similarly sized airplane." Its flight deck size is similar to the 777 and its cruise speed will be 0.85 mach, according to Boeing.

Second Skycatcher Prototype Crashes

A Cessna spokesman says the company may have to reconsider the delivery schedule for the 162 Skycatcher after the second crash of a prototype Thursday. The pilot, who was doing unspecified flight test maneuvers, pulled the ballistic parachute, which deployed and he was uninjured in the incident. Photos show the aircraft ended up inverted, likely because the parachute pulled it along the ground. The crash aircraft was the only flying example of the 162 after September crash destroyed the first prototype. Deliveries were to begin later this year, but Bob Stangarone, Cessna's vice president of corporate communications, told the Wichita Eagle, that schedule will have to be adjusted.

Stangarone told the Eagle that spin testing the 162 "was the last big thing we had" in completing the Light Sport certification testing of the design. It was an unrecoverable spin that caused the September crash, in which the pilot bailed out after the aircraft parachute failed to deploy. Cessna enlarged the tail on the Skycatcher in response to that accident but Stangarone was unable to confirm whether the aircraft was undergoing spin testing at the time of Thursday's accident.

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Bringing Them to Market, Part II back to top 

Quest Kodiak Fulfills Promise, Delivers Aircraft "At Cost"

Quest Aircraft turned over the first of many short takeoff and landing, heavy-hauling, single turboprop Kodiak aircraft to be sold "at cost" as part of the manufacturer's Quest Mission Team (QMT) program. The Kodiak was designed for the rigors of off-airport mission work and can carry 3,100 pounds (or 10 passengers) into the air after a 760-foot ground roll, cruise more than 1,000 miles at 179 knots, and land in a little more than 900 feet. Both the company, Quest Aircraft, and the aircraft, the Kodiak, were created with the intent of filling the demands of mission aviation work. The company owes its origins and much of its startup capital to money raised by churches and mission aviation organizations. In return Quest has said it will deliver every 11th aircraft as a QMT plane to one of those organizations, "at cost." Quest has now met that goal with its first delivery to the Mission Aviation Fellowship, and as production continues to ramp up, a second QMT aircraft is already on the line at the company's Sandpoint, Idaho, facility. The unique capabilities of the aircraft have earned interest from other markets, as well.

Last July, demand led the company to earn a standard airworthiness certificate and type certification for parachute-jump operations. The company says that "is a first for an aircraft delivered new from the factory to the end user." The Kodiak comes off the assembly line built for abusive off-airport use in very demanding terrain, with float attachments already built into the airframe and dual Garmin G1000s, standard.

See also AVweb's video tour of the Kodiak.

Eclipse Jet Enlists Eclipse Aviation's Roel Pieper

"Roel [Pieper] reluctantly took over as CEO of Eclipse in July of 2008," according to a press release that now announces him as a partner with Mike Press, Mason Holland, Raul Segredo and John Cracken in Eclipse Jet LLC (a.k.a. New Eclipse) -- a company that seeks to acquire and operate the assets of Eclipse Aviation. Pieper, who succeeded Vern Raburn as Eclipse's CEO, found himself unable to fund his plan to turn the financially failing Eclipse Aviation around as the economy collapsed. But, says Holland, he has engaged himself with Eclipse Jet in a way that "proved very useful." Specifically, Holland says Pieper, who will act as Director of Eclipse Jet, has guided cost reduction and market expansion for the Eclipse 500. The team hopes to combine Pieper's experience with Segredo's, whose company, Avionica, was founded in 1992 and now stands to equip Boeing's first 787 as a provider of satellite-communications gear. Cracken is managing director of a Dallas-based private-equity firm that specializes in "the acquisition of middle-market companies." Mike Press is an Eclipse owner and Mason Holland is a 60-percent deposit holder. Press and Holland have been working to form a group that might, according to Holland, "restore the vision of Eclipse and honor the company's commitments to owners and depositors." Eclipse Jet LLC set specific objectives earlier this month.

Eclipse Jet on March 13 announced core objectives to "deliver a compelling value to Eclipse 500 owners and depositors; restore their faith in the Eclipse 500 and keep them in the family; deliver a compelling value to the new Eclipse Jet shareholders; and rebuild a global strategy that enables the full potential of the Eclipse 500 to be achieved."

Lycoming® — The Engines of Choice
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Helicopter Groundings back to top 

Possible Sikorsky S-92 Grounding Follows Fatal Crash

Following the March 12 crash of a Sikorsky S-92 helicopter off the coast of Newfoundland that killed 17 people, both the U.S. and Canada are reportedly considering temporarily grounding the fleet. Some 90 S-92s are in operation throughout the world and though a cause of this month's crash has not yet been determined, investigators have new concerns after finding a broken stud relating to the aircraft's main gearbox oil filter system. Those parts had been the subject of a voluntary safety alert issued by Sikorsky that warned operators to replace certain titanium studs with steel replacement parts. Failure of the studs could lead to loss of oil pressure and potential loss of control. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is leading the investigation and by Friday, the FAA had confirmed they were considering the action. Sikorsky has publicly supported the investigation but did not have additional details or recommended actions for operators by late last week. The pilots of this month's crash aircraft reportedly declared a mayday minutes before the crash, citing a problem with the main gearbox oil pressure. The aircraft appeared to fly a controlled descent from 9,000 feet but lost control near 800 feet, according to early reports. Only one person survived.

At the time of this writing, investigators had not yet determined if the accident aircraft's gear box studs had broken prior to or after the accident. Canadian officials stated that Canada had a strong history in helicopter safety -- particularly for medical flights. In that facet of aviation, Canada's last fatality occurred in the 1970.

Mass Grounding Of Bell Helicopters Revised

The FAA Thursday drastically reduced the number of aircraft affected by an emergency airworthiness directive it issued Tuesday from about 2,715 aircraft to about 50 helicopters registered in the U.S. The earlier AD had required emergency inspection of some 2,715 Bell 206, 407 and 427 models. (Bell 206 and 407 helicopters are the company's bestselling civil helicopters and are widely used in first responder and police work.) The more recent emergency airworthiness directive requires inspections for an improperly installed the cyclic control lever bearing -- on aircraft with fewer than 50 hours flight time. Problems with the bearing could lead to control problems and possibly control failure. Affected operators are now directed to inspect the part before the aircraft's next flight and replace the part if necessary. Bell discovered the problem about a week ago during delivery of a helicopter.

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The Future of Flying? back to top 

Williams Tests Alternative Fuel FJ44 Engine

Williams International announced Friday that it has completed "extended testing" that burned 2,000 gallons of "coal-based alternative fuel" in a Williams FJ44-3 gas turbine engine. The test engine endured 118 cycles and 21 hours of operation and "performed extremely well," showing performance numbers that were "identical" to its Jet-A burning counterparts, according to the company. Further, the test engine required no modifications for the demonstration, which Williams says "validates the flexibility" of the FJ44 in its ability to operate with different compounds created from alternative processes. The fuel used in the tests was developed at Penn State University in cooperation with Intertek-PARC and Duquesne University. It was "essentially free" of sulfur and nitrogen while retaining a higher energy density than Jet-A, which may translate to longer-range flights. Williams is using the test both to promote the "robust" nature of the FJ44 and also the company's participation in alternative fuel development.

Williams FJ44-series engines power Cessna CJ2+, CJ3 and Beechcraft Premier II aircraft and are also a popular choice for re-engine projects for older aircraft seeking to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Moving forward, Williams has specific plans that "include emissions and smoke measurement testing" as well as engine testing of alternative and second-generation biofuels. The process employed for the test fuel was developed for coal, but may also be adapted to use "renewable feedstocks" like waste biomass and municipal solid waste. It is hoped the process could lend itself also to the adaptation of algae as a fuel source, and thereby remove any competition with food sources.

Terrafugia Roadable Aircraft Post-Flight Report

Terrafugia last week celebrated the public announcement of the successful first test flights made by its two-seat roadable folding-wing aircraft, the Transition, March 5, and maintains its intent to deliver production models for under $200,000 and by 2011. Test pilot Col. (Ret) Phil Meteer reported that the test vehicle remained stable on the ground through 90 mph in earlier tests and said that in flight the aircraft was both "smooth" and "controlled" exhibiting stability that was "rock solid." Meteer said, "the rotation speed [70 knots] is 25 knots above stall speed [45 knots]," and that helps make the vehicle very stable in car mode and after landing. The first flight was filmed and took place over the runway at Plattsburg, N.Y., where the aircraft became airborne after an extended ground roll and with large control deflections. Under non-test conditions, the company predicts the Transition will take off over a 50-foot obstacle in 1700 feet. Per the test pilot, the aircraft touched down at 70 knots with 2000 feet of runway remaining (a 1,000-foot overrun was available). With four-wheel braking, the pilot said the Transition came to a stop in about 500 feet.

Terrafugia aims to develop the 100-hp Transition as a light sport aircraft that becomes a legally roadable vehicle thanks in part to folding wings. Terrafugia says it will get 30 mpg on the ground and will offer a range of more than 460 miles while flying at 100 knots through the air. Terrafugia is targeting a purchase price of $194,000 and is accepting orders with a fully refundable $10,000 reservation deposit. The company hopes to deliver to its first customers in 2011.

Dr. Blue Says, "Be Smart — Carry a PLB!"
Flying, hiking, camping, riding your ATV or bike — accidents happen that can become a life-threatening situation. Be prepared with a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). It's as easy as pushing a button. PLBs from Aeromedix.com include the ACR MicroFix 406 MHz for pilots when you're enjoying activities in unpopulated areas. Click now to visit Aeromedix.com for complete details.
New on AVweb back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #141: Through the System

Brainteasers While you navigate the National Airspace System (NAS), air traffic controllers apply a slug of rules to keep it all flowing. The more you know about how the system works, the smoother you'll sound.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

AVweb Insider Blog: Our Future Starts Now

Non-profit aviation organizations are struggling as much or more as the rest of us during this downturn, and in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Mary Grady explains why it's important to support these groups now — so they'll still be around when the crisis passes.

Read more.

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

AVmail: March 23, 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: Wright Was Right

George Wright wrote: "The inoperative radar altimeter was incidental to this crash, which resulted from three trained pilots all failing to note air speed falling below minimums — a minimum need-to-know to be called an aviator."

To which Russ Niles said: "C'mon, George, that's like saying cause of death was heart failure and failing to mention the knife in the patient's chest."

Clever retort, Russ, but bad analogy. I'm with George on this one. A better analogy would be that AVweb reported the cause of death was a cheeseburger, ignoring the fact that the victim knew he had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weighed 300 lbs., neglected to take his prescriptions, and never exercised. What you reported was simply the proximate cause, the last link in a chain of neglect, but hardly the only or even primary "cause" of the crash. In fairness, you allude to what will probably reveal the real cause: the CVR tapes.

An infected toenail is rarely life-threatening, unless you are ignoring your diabetes.

Chip Davis

Must say I totally agree with George Wright concerning you coverage of the Amsterdam crash. The LRRA may have caused the AP to attempt landing, but the primarily cause was crew error. In reality, this should be called a CFIT accident.

If the patient had a heart attack and fell on the knife, would it be called murder or suicide?

Bill Olsen

Russ, I'm appalled by your response to Mr. Wright. I too was surprised by the focus of the AVweb reporting and even distributed a retort to your article among associated aviation professionals, saying, "Operator error — what's that? Blame it on the airplane."

C'mon, Russ. You're part of the problem. George is right, and you are wrong.

Remember, the best safety equipment on any aircraft is a well-trained pilot.

Ron Beesley

AVweb Replies:

No more clever retorts for me, especially on topics that are still a matter of conjecture.

Russ Niles

Safety Under Pressure

Is the system going to buy what the FAA is saying — that they need more data on enforcing more crew rest? The FAA backs the airlines on the bottom line and whatever helps them maintain it. Safety has never been paramount except to the pilots, and now they are failing.

If you are tired, you should take crew rest, no matter what the rules say. We should always use common sense. People want to get from point A to point B safely. In flying for the best airline there ever was (TWA), I never got into any trouble for maintaining safety. The FAA is like most airline executives. They only pursue safety when pressured.

Louis K. Klemp Jr.

TSA Is the Problem

The "problem" is TSA trying to justify their existence. GA is not now, nor is likely to ever be a factor in terrorist threats. It is, however, an easier "problem" to solve than the real ones!

C. Michael Hoover

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.

TWX670 Color Lightning — A Whole New Way to Look at Weather!
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video: Tornado Alley Turbonormalized Cardinal

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

Tornado Alley's new turbonormalized Cardinal can run with the big dogs. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli takes you under the cowl with TAT's George Braly.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Want to see more shots of the Transition in flight?
You can view the raw video footage here.

Jeppesen Takes IFR Refresher Behind the Scenes of Instrument Approach Updates

File Size 10.8 MB / Running Time 11:48

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

IFR Refresher editor Meredith Saini chatted with Eric Anderson, spokesperson for Jeppesen, about how their instrument approach procedures are updated. Users of Jeppesen products can visit the Jeppesen web site to get mid-cycle revisions, which sometimes contain changes that were the result of an alert pilot noticing an error and bringing it to the company's attention.

To read more about Jeppesen — and other articles of interest to instrument-rated pilots — subscribe to IFR Refresher.

Video Marketplace Spotlight

Cessna Skycatcher
Kitplanes Editor 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.

Click here to watch the video (and discover other great products) at AVweb's Video Marketplace.

Eur-Avia Cannes 2009 Announces the Conference Program, to Include:
Buying new or second-hand aircraft; security round-up for 2008; technology to help the pilot; how to renovate and modernize your aircraft and interiors; external paintwork; avionics; engine improvements; and interior comfort. This Third International Exhibition will open its doors from April 30 to May 2, 2009 on the International Airport of Cannes Mandelieu (LFMD). Visit Eur-Avia.com for details.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: SheltAir Aviation Services (KORL, Orlando, FL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to SheltAir Aviation Services at KORL in Orlando, Florida.

AVweb reader David McKenna recommended the FBO:

We visited SheltAir on another pilot's recommendation, and Robert and Miguel [at SheltAir] lived up to their reputation. [They] totally impress[ed] us with VIP service, fair parking and fuel prices, an over-the-top welcome, and friendship!

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!

Working Healthy
A "no excuses" book that belongs in every repair station and line shop, Working Healthy is a manual on health and safety techniques written specifically for the aviation technician. Learn to protect your most valuable assets (your employees and students) from the risks and long-term health issues common in every aviation facility, and so reduce absenteeism, job delays, and your workman's comp premiums. One minor injury prevented will pay for this book 100 times over. Click here for details.
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.


Our latest batch of "POTW" photos are just a wee bit late, but not to worry — we'll run them in Monday's issue of AVwebFlash for those who didn't come online to find them on Thursday. On to the photos ... !

medium | large

Used with permission of Matt Ashcraft

LifeStar 1, As Seen fom the Ort Hangar at Grayson County Airport

Matt Ashcraft of Waco, Texas fills our top spot this week by combining some of our favorite elements — sunsets, thunderstorms, and helicopters. Just for good measure, Matt even made sure was a rescue craft, the lifeguard helicopter LifeStar 1!

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Used with permission of Joe Budge

Baja Taxi

"We just had to go someplace warm!" writes Joe Budge of Annapolis, Maryland. "This air taxi let us off at a remote air strip in Baja where we had a whale of a time (literally) — but that's another story ... ."

(Just in case you needed a reminder that AVweb readers know how to plan a getaway!)

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Used with permission of Thomas Auerbach

Hurry — We Gotta Go Now!

"Robert Winkler refuels his Bonanza at Twin Falls, Idaho" in this shot from Thomas Auerbach of Ponca City, Oklahoma. He explains, "What looks to be rather threatening weather was due to a combination of dry thunderstorms and smoke from area fires. We didn't waste any time on the ground, but actually we ... were able to skirt the weather area on the way to Olympia, Washington."

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Used with permission of Brad Templin

Dog Day Afternoon

Ah, dogs! We love 'em, and so does Brad Templin of Moraine, Ohio. But you know what dogs like Brad's friend Jessie love? The breeze from an open window — even when it's "the window of a '56 C-172."

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copyright © Gary L. Dikkers
Used with permission

America's "Ace of Aces"

Last week's winning photo of warbirds taking a tea break at Biggin Hill during World War II prompted several 1940s-era submissions — some of which you'll find this this week's slideshow bonus pics! — but none so unexpected as this.

Frequent "POTW" contributor Gary Dikkers of Madison, Wisconsin visited the graveside of legendary air ace Dick Bong, "in the village cemetary at tiny Poplar, Wisconsin (population 552 in the 2000 census)."

Don't forget to visit AVweb's home page for more reader-submitted photos. You'll find them in the slideshow about one-third of the way down the page ... .

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

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

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

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Heard over Oklahoma City approach frequency on a busy day:

"American One Twenty-Three, descend pilot's discretion. Maintain 6,000."

American 123 [after a long pause] :
"Oak City, American One Twenty-Three. Did you call us?"

"American One Twenty-Three, descend pilot's discretion. Maintain 6,000."

American 123:
"Say again."

Approach [getting a bit hot] :
"American One Twenty-Three: Descend — and maintain — 6,000. Pilot's discretion, co-pilot's discretion — it really doesn't matter to me!"

Geno Luther
Joshua, Texas

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.