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Volume 15, Number 12b
March 26, 2009
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Top News: Cessna on the SkyCatcher Crashback to top 
Sponsor Announcement

Cessna said in a news release on Wednesday that it is fully committed to the Model 162 SkyCatcher despite two accidents during the flight test program, in which two airplanes were destroyed. "The need for a modern, cost-effective two-seat trainer aircraft has never been greater, and we believe we are well positioned to meet that need," said Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. "The SkyCatcher program is an important part of our strategy." Pelton said that in the most recent incident, last Thursday, the aircraft was undergoing a very aggressive spin test regime -- power on and cross-controlled -- when it entered a spin that was not immediately recoverable. This spin test was one of more than 500 flown to date using various combinations of center-of-gravity positions, power settings, flap settings and control inputs. The pilot deployed the airframe parachute in accordance with the flight-test procedure and emerged from the aircraft unhurt after it touched down. Last September, an earlier test aircraft was destroyed when the pilot parachuted to safety after being unable to recover during aggressive spin testing. "We test all our aircraft well beyond the limits of what is expected in normal operation," Pelton said. More...

As was the case with the first Skycatcher prototype crash, an unrecoverable spin led to the loss of the second and last flying Cessna 162 last week. The second airplane had been fitted with a larger tail as a result of the first crash. And, as in the first crash, there were complications with the parachute recovery system that led to the aircraft being wrecked, according to preliminary report issued Tuesday by the NTSB. The report says the test pilot set up an unspecified "planned test condition" and the aircraft entered a "rapid and disorienting spin" from which the pilot couldn't recover. Unlike the previous accident, in which the ballistic parachute recovery system failed to deploy, the chute opened this time but caused further problems in the rest of the accident sequence. More...

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Accident Reportsback to top 
Sponsor Announcement

The NTSB on Wednesday released factual findings from its investigation into the Feb. 12 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Buffalo, N.Y, in which all 49 on board and one person on the ground were killed. A preliminary examination of the airplane systems has revealed no indication of pre-impact system failures or anomalies, the NTSB said. The flight data recorder shows that the stall warning and protection system, which includes a stick shaker and stick pusher, activated at an airspeed and angle-of-attack consistent with that expected. The Dash 8-Q400's stick shaker will normally activate several knots above the actual stall speed to provide the flight crew with time to initiate stall-recovery procedures, and it activates at a higher airspeed than normal when the de-ice system is active, since icing elevates stall speed. The FDR data indicates that the stick shaker activated at 130 knots, which is consistent with the de-ice system being engaged. When the stick shaker activated, there was a 25-pound pull force on the control column, followed by an up elevator deflection and increase in pitch, angle of attack, and G force. The data indicate a likely separation of the airflow over the wing and ensuing roll two seconds after the stick shaker activated while the aircraft was slowing through 125 knots and while at a flight load of 1.42 Gs. The predicted stall speed at a load factor of 1 G would be about 105 knots. More...

At a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon in Montana, members of the NTSB said that so far nothing points to a likely cause for Sunday's fatal crash of a Pilatus PC-12, in which 14 people died. One of many mysteries is why the pilot chose to divert to Butte, when Bozeman was the flight's intended destination. "It's a question," Mark Rosenker, the NTSB's acting chairman, told reporters. "There's a lot of questions, but it begins with that question." The pilot, Ellison "Bud" Summerfield, did not declare any emergency. Rosenker said Summerfield's voice betrayed no sign of stress when he spoke with ATC about the diversion. Investigators will be retrieving more ATC tapes from Salt Lake City and they may request cellphone records for the airplane's passengers to see if they can find any clues for the reason the pilot diverted. Rosenker also said an engine performance recorder was found in the wreckage, but added that it might not offer much help. "It will tell us about the engine and how it's doing, [but] it is not designed for accident investigation," he said. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the safety board already has examined the issue of a known problem with the aircraft's elevator controls, which was addressed in an FAA Airworthiness Directive in March, and determined it had nothing to do with Sunday's crash. Although the 10-seat airplane was carrying 14 people, and icing was reported in the area, neither weight-and-balance issues nor icing factors seem to be standing out as likely causes to the NTSB. Seven of those on board were small children, and the airplane was certified for flight in icing conditions. "Nothing is off the table in this investigation," Rosenker said. "But nothing also, at the same time, is leading us to specific working theories." More...

Sun 'n Fun — It's Like Spring Break for Pilots
Scheduled for April 21-26 in Lakeland, Florida. Featuring the U.S. Army Parachute Team "Golden Knights." This annual event 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. Get your tickets online now at
Aviation Safetyback to top 

Traffic in the airspace over Denver has been restricted because managers at the Tracon say they don't have enough experienced controllers to handle the volumes that once were possible, according to an internal FAA memo that was written last month. Kevin Stark, acting air traffic manager for the FAA at the Denver Center, wrote: "The Tracon has indicated that the loss of a large number of their experienced employees, the relative inexperience of many of their current controllers, and the increase in volume has created a situation they can no longer accept. They have indicated that the volume issues created by eight different routes flowing into their airspace routinely creates situations that put their controllers at risk, and they are unable to provide the level of service our customers deserve." Kathryn Vernon, the FAA's director of Western Terminal Operations, told CBS4 of Denver, "As the letter is written, I would agree with you it sounds alarming. ... [However,] there is not a safety issue in the Denver airspace and Colorado airspace." Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told AVweb the problem proves what NATCA has long been saying: "That forced labor rules and pay cuts would drive out a significantly higher number of experienced controllers into early retirement and attrition, leaving the agency ill-equipped to handle today's traffic demands, let alone be able to train the next generation of controllers being hired." More...

On Monday, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive grounding all Sikorsky S-92 helicopters, the type that crashed off the Newfoundland coast on March 12, killing 17 people. The FAA said investigators found two main gearbox studs had broken. "Failure of a stud ... could result in rapid loss of oil, failure of the main gearbox, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter," the FAA said. A similar failure had occurred in a July 2008 accident. "The failures have been tied to fretting and galling of the original titanium studs," the FAA said, "therefore, we are requiring the removal of all titanium studs and replacement with steel studs." The helicopters cannot fly until the replacement is complete, the FAA said. The aviation authorities in Canada and the UK have issued similar mandates. Sikorsky, based in Stratford, Conn., said in a news release on Monday that the majority of the worldwide fleet of S-92 helicopters has already complied with the requirements of the AD. The company said it has delivered 91 of the S-92 helicopters, and contacted all operators on March 20 after broken titanium studs were found during the crash investigation in Canada. "The investigation is continuing, and no determination has been made that the broken studs contributed to the accident or if they resulted from it," Sikorsky said in the news release. Operators were notified "as a safety precaution." As of Monday, at least 50 of the fleet had already completed the retrofit, Sikorsky said. More...

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Weekback to top 

The National Business Aviation Association and the Alliance for Aviation Across America have both asked JetBlue to stop an ad campaign that appears to be a satirical attempt to cash in on the ongoing public relations problems suffered by business aviation. The campaign invites "bigwigs" to use the airline instead of flying privately. In response, the Alliance has run an ad noting the large areas of the U.S. not served by JetBlue. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Alliance spokeswoman Selena Shilad said JetBlue's ad is an example of the distorted view of general aviation being presented by some and her organization decided it was time to hit back. NBAA President Ed Bolen wrote JetBlue CEO David Berger asking him to pull the ads, noting that business people are among the biggest customers of the airlines when their service makes sense. More...

Related Content:
Podcast interview with Alliance for Aviation Across America's Selena Shilad

AVweb will be attending the Aircraft Electronics Association's annual show in Dallas and word is that there will be more product announcements than ever. To give our newsteam a chance to cover all the announcements, we'd appreciate companies with news to share to get it to us in advance (embargoed as necessary) so we can give each one the attention it deserves. Send your announcements to More...


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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News Briefsback to top 

A Pennsylvania airport will be the first GA field to get money from the federal government's stimulus package, AOPA reported this week. Allegheny County Airport, near Pittsburgh, will get $2 million to renovate a taxiway and relocate a ramp. "The money will definitely be put to good use," airport manager Dave Shaw told AOPA. "Not only will it straighten out the taxiways, but it will also make space in the upper-west ramp for future development to allow us to continue to grow and thrive." More money should be coming soon for "shovel-ready" GA projects, AOPA said. Meanwhile, lots of GA companies are offering promotions of various kinds to try to stimulate their own economies. Socata this week announced a new co-ownership program for buyers of its TBM 850 turboprop, offering one-third shares. The program cuts ownership costs and provides professional management services, the company said. Also this week, Continental Motors said it will offer rebates of $1,000 to $2,000 on factory-rebuilt engines through April 15, on top of a recent price cut of 10 percent. "Aircraft owners may want to research the many benefits of installing a genuine factory-new or factory-rebuilt engine versus an overhaul service prior to reinvesting in their aircraft," the company said in a news release. American Legend Aircraft Company also announced this week a new "Aeronomic Stimulus," reducing its price on the next five Legend Cub LSAs sold to $99,895. More...

Randy Babbitt, who served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association during the 1990s, is expected to be nominated by the Obama administration to be the next FAA administrator, perhaps as soon as today, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Babbitt's name has been in the rumor mill for a while, and he's considered to be a compromise candidate who is likely to be acceptable to both airline types and labor leaders, according to the WSJ. The administration is apparently feeling pressured to fill the long-vacant post quickly, due to the recent run of aircraft accidents in the news. The FAA has not confirmed the appointment. More...

Another new company, Eclipse 500 Services, aims to provide maintenance support to the orphaned fleet...
A pilot in Italy has been convicted of manslaughter in connection with a 2005 crash that killed 16 people...
Bill Boisture will take over as CEO at Hawker Beechcraft, replacing Jim Schuster, who is retiring.

New ASF Safety Quiz — Test Your Air Safety 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.
New on AVwebback to top 

Our resident crank, Paul Bertorelli, has just learned that the F-35 will be called the Lightning II. Can't the Air Force do any better than this? he asks in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog. Why not log onto the blog and contribute your own two cents? Help us get this guy under control — this man has to be stopped. More...

Get the Diamond Advantage with the Leaders in Flight Training
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!back to top 

Plenty of parties — government and otherwise — stand ready to pump money into the aviation industry to help it weather economic hard times. But where should it be spent? We'd like to hear which segment of aviation should get the lion's share of "stimulation."

Plus: Last week, we asked AVweb readers what they might say to Juan Barnes, the TSA's new security liaison to GA, about the current state of the agency's policies and practices. Click thorugh to see what they had to say. More...

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 What have you heard? More...

Put AeroExpo Europe - Prague and AeroExpo Europe - London on Your Show Schedule
AeroExpo Europe - Prague (May 22-24, 2009) will showcase everything from ultralights to helicopters to business aircraft in the heart of Europe, marketing to the European and emerging Eastern European and Russian markets. AeroExpo Europe - London (June 12-14, 2009) includes aircraft from light aircraft, pistons, and turboprops through to VLJs (very light jets) and all parts and services for these general aviation aircraft. Go online for exhibitor and attendee details.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

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. More...

Video Marketplace Spotlight

New for 2009 from Flight Design
Flight Design CEO Tom Peghiny joins Aviation Consumer editor Paul Bertorelli to outline the company's new-for-2009 offerings at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida.

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

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
Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


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!


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Reader-Submitted Photosback to top 

No stunts, colorful skylines, or even airplanes in this week's top photo, believe it or not — just a thoughtful moment capturing discreetly by Deborah Grigsby Smith of Englewood, Colorado. The Ace in question is USAF Brigadier General Steve Ritchie, who served as a keynote speaker at the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame's 2009 induction ceremonies. More...

Aviation Consumer, the Only Magazine with the Guts to Tell the Truth
Truth about the gear you buy and the planes you fly. Aviation Consumer is packed with in-depth and uncompromising ratings of equipment, avionics, accessories, mods, services, aircraft, and much more. Order online and receive unlimited access to Aviation Consumer's ratings-packed web information database!
Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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.