AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 15, Number 19a

May 11, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
A Life Insurance Policy That Returns All of Your Premiums? — YES
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Top News: Aviation Safety — Finding the Causes back to top 
 

Colgan Curbs Speculation Regarding FAA Fatigue Probe

The FAA is examining some Colgan Air crew members to determine if they exceeded flight-time limitations, but according to Colgan that examination is not in any way related to the NTSB investigation of Colgan Air Flight 3407 that crashed Feb. 12, in Buffalo, N.Y, killing all 49 on board and one person on the ground. The NTSB previously listed fatigue management and stall-recovery training as factors that it was studying as it investigates that crash. According to the pilots union, letters sent from the FAA to Colgan Air pilots regarding their scheduling do not make mention of the crash. A memo sent by the union for Colgan pilots and obtained by Buffalo News told pilots the FAA is looking at a limited number of pilot schedules dating from last November and that the agency believes some pilots flew in violation of flight- or duty-time regulations. Toward that end, Colgan and the FAA may be in disagreement about the interpretation of the rules and specific paperwork under review. Specifically, exception reports may or may not indicate that pilots legally flew beyond their allowances due to weather or other factors outside the carrier's control. Colgan said the probe was part of a routine FAA review, that its pilots are "in full compliance" with federal regulations and it is not expecting any enforcement actions as a result.

Current FAA regulations allow pilots to fly no more than eight out of each 24 hours, allowing for at least eight continuous hours of rest. Rest periods shorter than nine hours require an automatic compensatory extension of the pilot's next rest period. Operators found to be in violation of the regulations are subject to civil fines.

NTSB Determines Cause In Arizona EMS Heli Collision

The NTSB has determined in the case of two EMS helicopters that collided near Flagstaff Medical Center last June, killing all seven persons aboard, that had the pilots "been more attentive and aware" and communications more thorough the accident could have been prevented. According to the NTSB, the actions of both pilots contributed to the accident that destroyed the two Bell 407 EMS helicopters while on approach to the helipad. En route, the pilots of the aircraft were in communication with their communications centers and both provided position reports. The communications center at Flagstaff Medical Center advised the first pilot that the other helicopter would be dropping off a patient and advised the second pilot's communication center of the first aircraft's arrival. However, that communication center failed to relay the information to the second pilot (and was not required to do so, according to the NTSB). The second pilot then failed to contact communications at Flagstaff Medical Center, which was required, and so arrived on scene uninformed of the first aircraft's presence. Further, the first pilot flew a non-typical approach that was not in accord with noise abatement guidelines and would not have been expected by the second pilot. Neither aircraft had onboard a collision avoidance system.

The NTSB found that had a typical approach been flown by one of the aircraft, had either aircraft been equipped with a collision avoidance system (not required), and had required communications procedures been employed it is likely the accident could have been avoided.

 
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U.S. National Security back to top 
 

F-22 On Chopping Block, Joint Strike Fighter Not

The Obama administration has taken a look and after production of 187 aircraft, "the administration proposes to terminate the F-22 Raptor program," and close the Raptor production line. The quote comes straight from the Terminations, Reductions, and Savings report offered up by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Raptor program costs the United States about $3.5 billion per year, according to the OMB, and the proposal would halt production after 2009, when the current multi-year procurement contract ends. The OMB states that the 187 examples of the F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter, supported by the planned fleet growth of Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) to 2,443 aircraft, "will meet DOD's requirements to maintain air superiority." And, according to the OMB, the Department of Defense agrees. But while the F-22 has frequently been attacked for its expense it has rarely (if ever) been attacked for its demonstrated real-world abilities. The JSF is a different story, but does come with at least one distinct advantage.

Versions of the JSF are destined for sale en masse to foreign governments and as such, the JSF program is seen by some as vital to the U.S. recapitalizing tactical aircraft. With the GAO and Congressional budget office both questioning the affordability of continuing the F-22 program while simultaneously pursuing the larger JSF procurement, that factor may be critical. Still, the JSF is still a project in development and as such its cost figures are still somewhat malleable -- they may grow larger. With the proposal to cut the F-22 on the books, critics and proponents of both aircraft may find new urgency in their voices. We'll be listening.

DOT Report: ATC Highly Vulnerable To Cyber Attack

In 2008, hackers temporarily gained the power to shut down FAA servers, according to an audit performed by the Department of Transportation. The report states that the United States air traffic control system is highly vulnerable to cyber attack in large part due to Web applications (those accessed via Internet browser) run by aviation authorities nationwide. More than 70 Internet applications used for anything from distributing communications frequencies to those that serve internal air traffic control systems create at least 763 high-risk vulnerabilities, the May 4 report said. Any one of those vulnerabilities could allow an Internet hacker the ability to alter systems, gain access to data, or, worse, take control of a computer. In the last fiscal year, some 800 "cyber incident alerts" were reported to the Air Traffic Organization and by year-end, 17 percent had not yet been remediated, "including critical incidents in which hackers may have taken over control of ATO computers." According to the report, "it is likely to be a matter of when, not if, ATC systems encounter attacks that do serious harm to ATC operations."

The report found that multiple serious cyber attacks have occurred on FAA networks in recent years, including 2009. One such attack took place in February, when hackers compromised an FAA system and used it "to gain unauthorized access to personally identifiable information on 48,000 current and former FAA employees." The FAA plans to address the report's conclusions by creating safeguards or "patches" for Web applications -- some of which already have publicly available patches that the FAA has simply not yet applied -- and by adding more systems to detect outside intrusion, an area in which the report found the FAA currently fell short. It was noted in the report that the FAA was responsive to the report's recommendations through actions both taken and planned.

 
3 Airplanes ... 3 Levels ... 1 Edition ... Ice
New for 2009, Cirrus Aircraft shakes the lineup with a new way to spec out your new Cirrus. SR20, SR22, and Turbo models are now available in three well-equipped trim levels - "S," "GS," and "GTS"; Known Ice Protection is ready to go on SR22 and Turbo models; or choose an all-new premium interior and exterior upgrade package dubbed "X-Edition." Visit CirrusAircraft.com for details.
 
White House Report back to top 
 

Photoshoot Official Resigns

The White House official who authorized the photo shoot of one of the presidential Boeing 747s over New York last month -- and then didn't tell President Barack Obama or other top officials about it -- has resigned. Louis Caldera, the director of the White House Military Office, said in his resignation letter that the controversy made it impossible for him to continue. "Moreover, it has become a distraction to the important work you are doing as president," Caldera wrote in the letter to Obama. Caldera OK'd the flight and told New York police and city officials but also told them the information was classified. He did not, however, tell key Obama officials so Obama was unaware of the flight, presumably until his Blackberry started ringing.

Meanwhile, on the ground in New York, buildings were evacuated and people panicked at the specter of a large airliner flying at about 1,000 feet over the city with an F-16 in tow. Mayor Michael Bloomberg apparently wasn't notified, although members of his staff were aware of it. The NYPD obeyed the White House order to keep the mission a secret. The result of all this is a nice but unremarkable photo of the 747 with Miss Liberty well in the background that cost more than $300,000 to orchestrate. Military officials argue the money would have been spent, anyway, on another training mission.

Obama Budget May Cut Loran-C

There may be about $3.6 trillion in the Obama administration's proposed budget, but that may not include funding for LORAN-C because "it is obsolete technology," according to a report released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) titled Terminations, Reductions, and Savings. Cutting LORAN-C would save $36 million in 2010 and $190 million that would have been spent over five years in support of the system. Operated by the United States Coast Guard, the long-range radio navigation system "for civil marine use in U.S. Coastal areas" is no longer needed, according to the report, because "the federally-supported civilian Global Positioning System (GPS) has replaced it with superior capabilities." The remaining "small group of long-time users" is not seen as reason enough to continue funding and it is the opinion of the OMB that the system "is not capable as a backup for GPS." Federal agencies that rely on GPS "already have backup systems" for their GPS applications, wrote the OMB, but the office appears to concede that a national backup system has yet to be developed.

Federal agencies including the Departments of Defense, Transportation, and Homeland Security will not be compromised, wrote the OMB, "and the termination of LORAN-C does not foreclose future development of a national back-up system." The OMB states that funding for LORAN-C "merely stops the outflow of taxpayer dollars to sustain a system that does not now and will not, in its current state, serve as a backup to GPS."

 
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Keeping Aviation Healthy in Tough Times back to top 
 

The Sporty's Foundation, Year Two

Created "to fund initiatives that ensure a healthy future for the general aviation community," Sporty's Foundation Friday released its annual report showing total bequests of $151,355 in 2008. Original funding for the foundation came from Sporty's Pilot Shop and its affiliate businesses but was bolstered by the foundation's online auction of a Cessna Citation Mustang that netted the foundation $500,000 from an anonymous bidder. According to Sporty's, "Donors can rest assured that every dollar contributed goes directly to funded programs." In 2008, bequests went to flight training scholarships, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, and Build A Plane, among others. This year the foundation has already funded a Microsoft Flight Simulator for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The simulator was supported by Sporty's employees who volunteered weekends to teach youngsters the art of simulated flight. And Sporty's Foundation is looking forward.

The foundation at Sun 'n Fun '09 announced a partnership with EAA and its Young Eagles program and has pledged $250,000 over a three-year period to support that cause, but will continue to fund a range of other programs and education efforts. Through its efforts, the foundation is dedicated to growing the general aviation community. In the words of Sporty's Chairman Hal Shevers, "If there is no freshman class, in just four years, there will be no graduates." Sporty's is welcoming similarly motivated contributors to donate as their finances and desires dictate. For more information, download the foundation's annual report (2008) here.

General Aviation's Job Losses Spur Outreach For Aid

The letter released last week by 70 mayors and county executives sent to President Barack Obama began, "Recent negative press which has mischaracterized general aviation has created a poisonous climate for the aviation sector of our economy," but for some the message may prove too little and too late. Intended to show the importance of small aircraft and the economies they support, the letter called on the president to "help protect the 1.2 million good paying jobs and $150 billion per year in economic output created by GA." Then, in a press conference with reporters, mayors emphasized losses specific to their communities. Some 13,000 aviation jobs have been lost nationally, according to a supporting press release from the Alliance For Aviation Across America, and Wichita serves as ground zero, accounting for some 8,000 job losses. Overall, manufacturers are suffering a 7-percent slump in general aviation aircraft sales. But theirs isn't the only hand aviation has in the pot, and when the administration's Fiscal Year 2010 budget was released at week's end another segment of the industry was quick to express its disappointment.

Airports Council International - North America (ACI-NA), which represents the government entities that own and operate commercial airports in the U.S. and Canada, distributed a press release Friday that expressed "disappointment that funding for the Airport Improvement Program was not increased." ACI-NA noted that "NextGen begins and ends at the airport" and an investment in airports is an investment in "both jobs and economic activity." The group was also disappointed that funding for the Small Community Air Service Development program, which "provides airports with funding to enhance and attract new air service," was cut altogether. ACI-NA will through channels to attempt to obtain $10 million in funding for that program.

 
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.
 
News Briefs back to top 
 

Jail For Spotlighting Jets

According to his attorney, Henry Gros, 56, complained via phone to the Navy and city authorities and wrote one senator without effect, until one year ago he shined a spotlight at naval aircraft flying nighttime simulated carrier approaches to Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Gros says the idea was to collect identification markings off the aircraft as they flew 100 feet over the roof of his mobile home, according to The Florida Times-Union. The act succeeded in winning Gros some attention ... from Federal prosecutors and they, through a U.S. District Judge, managed to have Gros sentenced to one year and a day in prison. And so it is that Gros, who was arrested by Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents in September, now has until June 4 to report to prison. The appointment falls about four years after Gros moved to the area ... and about four years since he signed a disclosure stating that his property was close enough to the Navy's practice airfield that it would be affected by activity there, assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan McKay told the Times-Union.

Despite Gros' attorney's claims that his client's actions were intended to help him collect evidence about the jet flights, prosecutors believed Gros' intent was malicious. The act of shining spotlights at military pilot trainees even resulted in one practice session being called off.

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

Share Your EBACE News

Europe's biggest business aviation show, the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) is almost here and AVweb is inviting companies attending to submit their news releases to us for possible publication in our show coverage. Send your news to editor@avweb.com.

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.

 
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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Sean Tucker's Fuel Exhaustion Adventure

Boy, that Sean Tucker sure screwed up when he ran out of fuel, didn't he? Um, yeah — and AVweb's Paul Bertorelli has a little confession to make on that front, too. Read all about it in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog — and if you're not in the club with Paul and Sean, be sure to take the lesson to heart.

Read more.

 
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 Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 
 

What's Up at Robinson?

File Size 9.5 MB / Running Time 10:20

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

AVweb recently visited Robinson Helicopter's Torrance, California plant. Although sales are slow, the factory is buzzing with activity, including work on the new R66 turbine. Frank Robinson gave us an update in this podcast.

Click here to listen. (9.5 MB, 10:20)

Sean Tucker Explains Off-Airport Landing

File Size 12.5 MB / Running Time 13:39

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

It's a lesson that every new flight student learns, and it's one that 23,000-hour aviation icon Sean Tucker learned again last Sunday. The legendary aerobatic pilot tells AVweb's Russ Niles why he'll never fly again without first dipping the fuel tanks.

Click here to listen. (12.5 MB, 13:39)

 
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.
 
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 
 

Exclusive Video: Cessna Mustang Demo Flight — Is It Really as Easy to Fly as a Skyhawk?

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

Almost. In this post-Sun 'n Fun video, AVweb reports that the Mustang's control forces and basic systems are so close to those of a heavy single or light twin that any moderately experienced pilot should be able to check out in it without breaking a sweat. And at 340 knots for 1,100 miles, we could get used to it, thanks.

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.

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


Video Marketplace Spotlight

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

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.
 
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Century Aviation (KGWB, Auburn, IN)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Century Aviation at George W. Bush Airport (KGWB) in Auburn, Indiana.

AVweb reader Joe Kobiela recommended the FBO:

Lara (a CFI) and her husband Tony (an A&P) took over a rundown FBO and have worked hard to make this a great alternative to Fort Wayne. With a 5,000-foot ILS runway and competitive fuel prices, charts, headsets, and warm cookies, these two have put their future into aviation and have shown Hoosier hospitality to all who land.

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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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"

Perhaps someone should explain to this pilot the subtleties of requesting a pop-up clearance:

Skyhawk:
"Rochester departure, Skyhawk One Two Three. Request a pop-up clearance to Buffalo. We're IMC."

Ronald Burk
via e-mail

 
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:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
Jeff van West
Mariano Rosales

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.

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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.