AVwebFlash - Volume 15, Number 20b

May 21, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Aircraft Spruce Canada: Grand Opening Fly-In on June 6, 2009
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Top News: TSA Draws Fire back to top 
Sponsor Announcement

GA Groups Ask TSA To Back Off

Five groups representing the general aviation community this week asked the Transportation Security Administration to withdraw the onerous security directive that requires GA pilots to apply for identification badges from any airport they use, which takes effect on June 1. "We would like to see TSA ... [instead] initiate the required rulemaking process to implement a change of this scope," reads the letter, which is addressed to Janet Napolitano, who heads the Department of Homeland Security. The TSA directive requires airport operators to ensure that anyone in the airport operating area is escorted or has an airport-issued identification card, and all applicants for those cards must undergo a Security Threat Assessment by the TSA. The impact on GA operators is substantial, since every airport requires its own ID, and escorts may not always be available.

So far, the TSA has responded to complaints by saying each airport operator can develop an alternate means of compliance and submit it to TSA. "The resulting patchwork of 'alternate means' would likely create far more problems than it would solve," the letter says. The letter was signed by the leaders of AOPA, EAA, the National Business Aviation Association, the National Air Transportation Association and the National Association of State Aviation Officials. "We have turned to the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, because this security directive could have a far-reaching impact on pilots," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. "Because the TSA never consulted the people who know the most about general aviation, it developed a set of requirements that ignore the realities of general aviation flying and the need for access at airports." Click here for the full text of the letter.

Related Content:
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Rare Warbird Seized By Federal Officials

Click the image for video of the Skyraider flying (after some nice footage of Hendrickson's P-51).

Federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of the Department for Homeland Security, have seized a Douglas AD-4N Skyraider that was imported to the U.S. from France last year, EAA said this week. "The feds have seized it," Claude Hendrickson, of Bessemer, Ala., confirmed to AVweb on Wednesday. "It's here in a hangar under lock and key and we are not allowed access to it." Hendrickson bought the airplane in France and flew it home last year. It was registered with the FAA last September and has been flying since then. DHS alleges that required forms were improperly filed, according to EAA. Hendrickson has created a Web site with details about the airplane, and asks that supporters contact their congressional representatives to plead for the preservation and return of the airplane.

The Skyraider is a single-seat, single-engine piston attack bomber that was flown by the U.S. military from the 1950s until the early 1970s. The airplanes flew in combat in Korea and Vietnam.

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Watching Washington back to top 

Babbitt Nomination Moves Forward

Randy Babbitt, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the FAA, has passed one hurdle -- on Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee unanimously voted to send him along to the full Senate for confirmation. Senate confirmation is the final step before he can move into the post. NBAA applauded the move. "As a pilot, [Babbitt] has operational knowledge of our air transportation system," the organization said in a statement. "He also brings recognized expertise to our highly complex policy issues. As the nation's air transportation system faces many immediate challenges, all of us in the business aviation industry know that Randy will be able to hit the ground running at this critical point in the evolution of our system. We look forward to working with him to achieve our shared goal of leading the world in aviation." Babbitt, an ATP-rated pilot, has a background as a labor relations consultant, and was formerly president of the Air Line Pilots Association. Other GA groups have also responded positively to Babbitt's nomination. No date was announced for the next step of Senate confirmation.

Report Critiques FAA Oversight Of Aviation Safety Action Program

The FAA is not making good use of the benefits that could be provided by the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), according to a report by the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General that was released this week. "ASAP, as currently implemented, is a missed opportunity for FAA to enhance the national margin of safety," the OIG report says. The program allows airline employees to report safety violations to their employers and to the FAA without fear of reprisal. To realize the full benefits of ASAP, the FAA needs to clarify which incidents should be excluded from the program and emphasize to employees that ASAP is not an amnesty program, the OIG said. The agency also should develop a central database of ASAP reports and use it for trend analysis. "While ASAP is a potentially valuable safety tool, we found that FAA's ineffective implementation and inadequate guidance have allowed inconsistent use and potential abuse of the program," the report says.

Currently, 73 airlines participate in ASAP, which has been a thorny issue between airlines and pilot unions. American and Delta dropped out of the program last year after union leaders complained that pilots who voluntarily disclosed problems were unfairly punished. Comair, which had also dropped out, rejoined last week. "Reinstating this important program reaffirms Comair's commitment to continue developing a strong safety culture," said Comair President John Bendoraitis. "Programs such as ASAP are designed to help provide a safe and reliable work environment for our employees and travel experience for our passengers."

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News Briefs back to top 

USAF Refueler Spots Airliner Fuel Leak

Most passengers on an airliner never even look out the window, but about 300 people on a commercial flight bound for Japan are lucky that U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, who works with the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, was paying attention. Shortly after takeoff from Chicago, Bachleda noticed what appeared to be a plume of fuel leaking from the left wing. He told a flight attendant about the apparent leak, but at first got an unconcerned response. Then he told her it was an emergency, and showed her the video he had shot from his seat. "She was completely serious and was no longer handing out drinks," he said. "I told her you need to inform your captain before we go oceanic." The captain came into the cabin to check out the leak and said the cockpit crew had been aware that fuel seemed to be burning too quickly. He diverted the flight to San Francisco, where most passengers were able to catch another flight to Japan.

Bachleda and a coworker were asked to stay aboard while the passengers were deplaned. They waited for the arrival of investigators and officials, and participated in the debriefing about the situation. "When we got off the airplane everyone was thanking us," said the sergeant. The two airmen were put up in a hotel overnight and flew to Japan the next morning. The airline bumped them up to first class, the Air Force said.

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Safety & Regulations back to top 

Cessna Owners, Advocacy Groups React To FAA AD On 150s & 152s

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Last week, the FAA issued a final airworthiness directive affecting some 17,000 Cessna 150s and 152s in the U.S., despite widespread input from owners and advocacy groups who had opposed the directive when it was proposed back in 2007. The AD requires owners to either install a placard in the airplane to prohibit spins and other aerobatic maneuvers, or to replace some parts of the rudder, which would cost about $500. "AOPA opposes this AD," Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs, said this week. "We recommended [in 2007] that the FAA issue a special airworthiness information bulletin for a one-time inspection of the rudder area. This would allow the aircraft owner or a mechanic to check to make sure the rudder parts are installed correctly." The AD stems from two fatal accidents in the aircraft, in which pilots were practicing spins and were unable to recover.

AOPA says the aircraft in the 1998 accident was not airworthy shouldn't have been flying, and the aircraft in the 2005 accident had rudder bumpers installed incorrectly. AOPA said it is working with the FAA to try to mitigate the impact of the AD and has contacted the agency's small airplane directorate "to learn why such a sweeping action was taken to address what seem to be very isolated incidents." EAA noted that there have been "no failures of the aircraft's rudder control system which would lead one to believe the aircraft's type design was at fault." Tom Carr, of the Cessna Pilots Association, told AVweb on Wednesday that "CPA voiced our concerns in our NPRM comments and the FAA did not seem to agree." He said that an FAA official had told him that "Cessna demonstrated that there could be contact between the rudder and elevator even when the aircraft met type design and Cessna felt the kit installation resolved that issue." He added that he thinks it is unlikely that the FAA is going to back off from its current stand on the issue. The AD must be complied with within 100 hours after June 17, or within 12 months, whichever occurs first. Click here for the full text of the AD.

Congress Pushes For More Oversight Of Regional Airlines

Four senators have asked the Transportation Department Office of Inspector General to investigate safety enforcement at regional airlines, the Associated Press reported this week. Also, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the aviation subcommittee of the Commerce Committee, said he will hold a series of hearings, starting June 10, to investigate the issues. "The disclosures about crew rest, compensation, training, and many other issues demonstrate the urgent need for Congress and the FAA to take actions to make certain the same standards exist for both commuter airlines and the major carriers," Dorgan said. "The NTSB investigation has disclosed some very serious problems that need to be corrected immediately."

The issue was also raised Tuesday during confirmation hearings for Randy Babbitt, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the FAA. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., met with Babbitt just before the hearing, and told the AP that Babbitt said he will look into the FAA's regulation of pilot work hours at regional airlines. "I told him it seems to me they underpay and overwork their pilots," Schumer said. "He said he would look at it all. He said he was passionate about pilot fatigue." Other senators signing the letter to the OIG were Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Jim DeMint, R-S.C.

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News Briefs back to top 

Help Is Available For Pilots To Learn New Border-Crossing Rules

New rules that require passenger manifests to be filed online by general aviation pilots crossing U.S. borders became effective on Monday, and this week both EAA and AOPA are offering aids for pilots who need to get up to speed. EAA has developed a "kneeboard fact sheet" to help with flight planning. The one-page PDF file can be downloaded free at the EAA Web site. AOPA's Air Safety Foundation has developed a new interactive course, Understanding eAPIS: A Pilot's Guide to Online Customs Reporting. The course provides a simple overview of the new electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS). The course outlines how to sign up for and activate an eAPIS account, how to upload manifests and submit arrival and departure notices online, and runs through various flight scenarios. The course is free and available to anyone.

Pilots can also go directly to the eAPIS Web site to set up an account and learn more about the procedures. Failure to comply can result in a fine of $5,000 the first time and $10,000 for subsequent instances.

USAF High-Altitude Blimp To Provide An 'Unblinking Eye'

The U.S. Air Force said recently that it plans to build a 450-foot-long blimp within five years that will hover at 65,000 feet and stay aloft for a decade. The unmanned ship will serve as an aerial platform for surveillance gear that will allow the military to observe wide areas in fine detail. "That lets us better understand how an adversary operates, how to anticipate their actions, how to interpret their intent, and many other things that we need today, tomorrow and beyond," said chief scientist Werner J.A. Dahm, who is overseeing the project.

The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, the military's research arm, will start work this year on the Integrated Sensor Is the Structure, or ISIS, a scaled-down version of the blimp, designed to fly for a year. The group already has designed hull material that can withstand temperatures of 150 degrees below zero and retain 85 percent of its fiber strength for 22 years, the Air Force said. Lift will come from helium, and fuel cells recharged by the sun will provide power. Researchers still need to find ways to ensure the blimp can defend itself. The aircraft is too high for most enemy anti-aircraft systems but will be susceptible to missiles and other threats, Dahm said. "We need to assess if the technologies needed to make such systems possible are ready, and we need to learn how to effectively integrate those technologies into practical systems," he said.

On the Fly ...

An Indonesian C-130 crashed on the island of Java Wednesday morning with 112 people on board, 68 died...

A Cessna 172 and Cessna 310 collided in midair above the ocean off Long Beach, Calif., on Monday, three people were killed...

Chalkie Stobbart, of South Africa, broke a record set in 1939 for a solo round-trip flight between London and Cape Town in a single-engine airplane...

NATO minesweepers have launched a seabed search off Malta for the remains of a Gloster Gladiator biplane that was shot down in July 1940...

Flying low and slow, Indiana pilot Kris Maynard got 25.26 mpg during a 15-hour flight in his Husky.

AOPA's Aviation Summit
Don't miss the AOPA Aviation Summit, the premier annual aviation exposition — a completely new take on AOPA's annual gathering. Come to Tampa on November 5-7, 2009 to experience everything general aviation has to offer: hundreds of exhibits, aircraft on display, expanded training opportunities, and great social events! This event has something for everyone: aviation enthusiasts, student pilots, private pilots, and professional pilots. If you have a passion for flight, you won't want to miss it! Visit AOPA.org/summit for details.
New on AVweb back to top 

Question of the Week: Airport ID Badges

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked AVweb readers if they'd ever faced the same situation as air show performer Sean Tucker: running out of fuel.

While the majority of our readers (56% of those who took time to respond) said they'd never even come close, the other 44% of you confessed to varying type of fuel exhaustion problems. For the record, 9% of you confessed to running out of fuel at some time or another.

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.)


Security badges at your local airport may be here sooner than you expect. If it happens, we're curious what your reaction will be.

How will the TSA's airport badge requirement for GA pilots affect you?
(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 Fiddling Around America

There's nothing like a little barnstorming to revive the aviator's soul, and when it involves a vintage DC-3 we can't think of a better way to pass the time. Watch AVweb starting May 25 for daily video blogs from Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles as he goes low and slow with Dan Gryder in the fabulous 1938 Herpa Douglas DC-3 for an unscripted tour of America. We know we'll be in Huntsville, Ala. (3M5 - a 2,100-foot grass strip) on the evening of May 23 and at Gaston's White River Resort (3M0) in northern Arkansas for the weekend of May 30. All are invited.

In between those dates, we could be anywhere — including your home airport!

Join Russ, Dan, champion fiddler Jeff Pritchard, and the DC-3 crew as they rumble in and play bluegrass music at unsuspecting GA airports during the 2,500-nm journey. Watch for reports at www.AVweb.com, and for instructions on how you can follow along, chat with the DC-3 crew live in flight (courtesy of Verizon Wireless) and join the fun!

AVmail: May 21, 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: Colgan Aftermath

Two pilots find themselves in icing conditions and they begin discussing "their prior experience with icing." How is that "extraneous conversation"? To me, that sounds quite relevant, "operationally pertinent," and far from extraneous. Sharing experience could have saved the day. Unfortunately, in this case, according to the NTSB findings, there was little to no experience to share, things happened very quickly, and, together, the two pilots did not have enough experience to handle the situation successfully.

Jim Oeffinger

How can anyone move up from student pilot to even solo status without knowing which way to move the stick for various flight situations? A big part of the problem with training is that the spin was removed from the picture years ago. We have all had challenges in our training at some point, but that's what training is for. What a tragedy it is for everyone in aviation when something like this happens. Hopefully the final NTSB report will give us a better picture of the events and will lead us to better training for all pilots from day one.

P. D. Schmidt

Crossing the Border

Editor's Note: The following was sent to Rep. Jim Oberstar.

Effective May 18, 2009, the advance information requirement to cross into American airspace requires a special system notification [by electronic means] 60 minutes in advance per 8 CFR Part 231 CBP Dec. 08-43; Docket No. USCBP-2007-0064 RIN 1651-AA41.

Please put an immediate stop to this unlawful obstruction of commerce before some smart law firm greatly enriches itself off of this issue.

A phone call 60 minutes in advance to Customs and Border Services as has been required in the past with aircraft and passenger details (as previously supplied) should be more than adequate for border protection.

Alternative systems, if they are convenient to the traveler, should also be available but never mandatory.

Please help save the economy by stopping this unlawful obstruction of commerce.

Terry D. Welander

Mid-Air "Cause"

I read AVweb's headline NTSB Determines Cause in Arizona EMS Heli Collision. This, of course, was a mid-air collision. I would like to point out to the NTSB that we have learned nothing from a mid-air collision since the first one.

John DiLoreto

Fuel Exhaustion

What a great writing style for that story — I enjoyed it a lot. You have an honest frankness that made the story strike home as a lesson learned, a very important message.

Larry Beck

One Man's Music ...

I, for one, am tired of folks buying houses near airports and then complaining about aircraft activity. But then, I'm a pilot. Airplanes can't make noise; that's music! And, of course, my dream home is 100 feet away from the busiest runway I can find!

Richard Peters

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Why Did The TSA Seize Claude's Skyraider?

The TSA has seized Claude Hendrickson's 60-year-old airplane, and it's not saying why. AVweb Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles has been trying to figure out what the TSA is thinking, but he admits in the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog that he's as stumped as anyone.

Read more.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration
July 27 - August 2 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
This year is too BIG to miss. Literally. Witness the world's largest airliner — the Airbus A380; see the first world public debut of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo; attend appearances by the U.S. Airways Flight 1549 cockpit crew; and enjoy performances by the Doobie Brothers on opening day and comedian Jeff Dunham Saturday night. Save time and money when you buy your tickets online now.
The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

Attention, Aircraft Owners/Operators: Aviation Consumer Wants to Hear About Your Experiences with Electronic Tachometers

Our sister magazine, Aviation Consumer, wants to hear about your experiences with aftermarket electronic tachometers. We'd like to know why you installed an electronic tach; which one you chose and why; how easy or complicated the installation and paperwork were; how well you like the product; and whether you'd do it again. We'd also like to know about any warranty work you may have had and if you're happy with the tach's internal lighting, if any. Please also tell us where you mounted the electronic tachometer and a rough idea of how much you spent, including installation.

Please send a note to aviation_safety@hotmail.com and let us know your experiences, including the nature of any problems.

(The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.)

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.

Advanced Flight Instruction
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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.

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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.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Greenwood Executive Air (KHFY, Greenwood, IN)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Greenwood Executive Air at KHFY (Greenwood Municipal Airport) in Greenwood, Indiana.

AVweb reader Bill Foraker recently gave the Greenwood team lemons and was delighted with the lemonade they served up:

I needed to recon the area for family reunion planning, so I flew in ... to scout the area for hotels, golf courses, shopping malls, and all the other things the family members require. I taxied onto the FBO ramp at 6:50 — they close at 7 — and went inside to meet the friendliest and most helpful guys ever! I needed 100LL, a car, and I wouldn't be back until after they closed — no problems. The line guy refueled the old Comanche right away, and I got the info inside, paid, got the car keys, got directions, got a layout of the local area, got the plan for returning the car, and even got much of the info I visited to get. In fact, I almost could have gone home simply after talking with the FBO guys! It was a great experience, and I'll go back to Greenwood in a minute.

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 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.


medium | large

copyright © Sparky Barnes Sargent
Used with permission

Smokin' Tailwheels in the Twilight

Sparky Barnes Sargent of Washington, Oklahoma kicks off this week's festivities and joins the select ranks of our two-time "POTW" winners. (Sparky took the top spot back in 2006 with a Sun 'n Fun photo that still makes us regret never making it out to the night-time air show.)

Seriously, it's worth rooting around in our "Picture of the Week" archives from time to time!

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Used with permission
of Juan Pablo Rubilar

Tracing the Prop

A humid afternoon and a cooperative camera helped Juan Pablo Rubilar of Puerto Montt (Chile) land this eye-popping shot.

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Used with permission of Per Erik Pfingst

Late Summer Afternoon in EDXD

Direct from the cell phone of Per Erik Pfingst of Huede, Lower Saxony (Germany) comes this solid variation on a favorite theme. (It's already found a home on our PC as our latest desktop wallpaper image.)

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Used with permission of Timothy O'Connor

"I Thought YOU Were the Instructor!"

We always get a chuckle from the comments Timothy O'Connor of Batavia, Ohio attaches to his submissions — and with good reason, since he apparently enlists the whole gang in his flying group to come up with 'em! Tim and his posse had quite a few suggestions for this one, but our favorite was this one:

"The Engine Quit — Quick, Flap Your Arms!"

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copyright © Pete Howell
Used with permission

First Flight Excitement

"High over the fields of Indiana, Noah gets his first taste of aviation," writes St. Paul, Minnesota's Pete Howell — "and I think it goes pretty well!"

Want to fritter away more of your day looking at reader-submitted pictures? Of course you do! And you know where to find our slideshow by now.

Psst: 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.

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
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.

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.