AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 15, Number 21b

May 28, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: No Students, Please back to top 

Town Seeks To Outlaw Flight Training

Municipal governments keep coming up with new ways to try and impede activity at their local airports and the burghers of Grant-Valkaria in Brevard County, Fla. have come up with a novel approach to pressuring a local privately operated field. The town council will consider a resolution on Monday that would outlaw flight training, including recurrent training, at Valkaria Airport (X59). The ban comes in the form of a zoning amendment that's bound to catch the attention of the FAA, since the airport has received federal funding and the agency frowns on limiting aeronautical activity at such facilities.

Correspondents to AVweb claim the town council is aware of the fight they will have on their hands but believe the threat of the ban will be enough to make aircraft owners find greener pastures for their passion. Meanwhile, local pilots are being urged to attend the meeting at the Town Hall on Monday to let their elected officials know their opinions.

Has Zulu Changed Your Mind?
If so, we'd sure like to hear your story. Just go to the Zulu Change Your Mind web site and fill us in between now and the end of May, and we may post it on our web site. Plus — We'll give you another possible way to share your Zulu experience: All stories will be entered in a drawing for a free headset. Win, and you could make a passenger very happy. For the details, go to ZuluChangeYourMind.com.
Times May Be Tough, But Progress Beckons! (Part I) back to top 

Australian Company Makes Progress With "Compact Aerial Vehicles"

Entecho, based in Perth, Australia, is working to develop two aircraft that it calls Compact Aerial Vehicles. The two types of CAV, the Hoverpod and the Mupod, offer many advantages over conventional aircraft such as airplanes and helicopters, according to the company Web site. The smaller one, the remotely operated Mupod, is only about two feet across and weighs 11 pounds, and made its first flight last year. It is powered by a quiet electric motor and has drawn serious interest from defense contractors. The Hoverpod version would be big enough to carry up to three people and cruise at 75 mph, and is expected to fly for the first time sometime this year. Entecho's site says the design overcomes the key challenge of generating lift within a small vehicle envelope by employing a novel rotor fan and a unique combination of lifting surfaces.

The vehicles can be intuitively operated with simple joystick controls, the company says. The Mupod has been tested in crowded urban airspace where it has shown that it can hover, perch on buildings, and bump into obstacles and recover. The company says it will market the products for recreation, commercial, and defense purposes.

Related Content:
Answer our poll on personal air vehicles.

Lycoming® — The Engines of Choice
Lycoming® produces the most complete line of horizontally opposed, air-cooled four-, six-, and eight-cylinder certified aircraft engines available, with power ranging from 100 to 400 HP. For homebuilders, air race and aerobatic pilots, and others looking for non-certified engines with Lycoming dependability, Lycoming offers custom-built Thunderbolt Engines. Lycoming piston engines have a reputation for reaching or exceeding TBO. For more information, please visit Lycoming.com.
Times May Be Tough, But Progress Beckons! (Part II) back to top 

Stratos Moves Forward With VLJ Plans

With many established aircraft manufacturers putting new projects on hold, fresh start-ups working to introduce new designs are scarce. But Stratos Aircraft, of Bend, Ore., is moving ahead with plans for a new all-composite certified very light jet, and recently unveiled a mockup of the fuselage design. The mockup will debut at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh later this summer. "There's no four-seat aircraft with this kind of performance," Stratos CEO Michael Lemaire told the Bend Bulletin recently. The single-engine jet will fly over 1,500 nm at more than 400 knots, at altitudes up to FL410, according to the company's Web site, and will sell for about $2 million.

The company now is trying to raise $12 million to build two prototypes, and then find another $100 million to get the airplane certified and start production, according to the Bulletin. Fully refundable deposits of $50,000 are now being accepted. In recent years, start-up companies that have tried to bring new aircraft to market have found it tough going -- Eclipse Aviation and Adam Aircraft being just two of the more prominent examples. But Lemaire, who has founded and managed other companies in the computer industry, said composite VLJs are the biggest step forward in general aviation since the Learjet. "If you are interested in aviation, this will be a part of history," he told the Bulletin.

Europe's Air Taxis Forge Ahead

While next-generation light-jet air taxis have been slow to make headway here in the U.S., a new company in Europe seems to have found a sweet spot. Blink, based at Farnborough, near London, operates a fleet of just four Citation Mustangs, and so far it's working out. "Things are going very well for us at the moment," Peter Leiman, a Blink co-founder, told the Financial Times recently. "There are certainly challenging market conditions. But we're the right product at the right time." The company has contracted for 26 more Mustangs and plans to take delivery of one per month. "We remain firm on our entire order," Leiman said. He told the New York Times that the company beat its business-plan targets last year and continues to be on track in 2009. "Our gross margin is positive much earlier than we thought," he said. Blink operates in Western Europe and Scandinavia.

A low-cost air taxi operator called AirCab expects to launch in Munich in 2011. The company plans to charge passengers up to 70 percent less than business jet fares and will operate up to 50 Mustangs and Phenom 100s. Another operator, Jetbird, plans to launch this September in Koln-Bonn, Germany, and will operate a fleet of 50 Phenom 100s. Bikkair, based in Rotterdam, started flying in March 2008 but closed down in February, blaming a lack of access to capital due to the global financial crisis. "Without a doubt we have proven this model to be successful and generated a serious market share," founders Leendert and Bas Bikker told the Times. "It is extremely unfortunate that our start-up phase coincides with the current crisis."

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
The New FAA Administrator back to top 

GA Advocacy Groups Welcome Babbitt To FAA

Newly confirmed FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt has won a warm welcome from leaders in the general aviation world -- along with realistic assessments that the times ahead will be challenging. "I look forward to working with Administrator Babbitt," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. "During his confirmation hearing, and in my conversations with Randy, he demonstrated that he clearly understands general aviation pilots and our needs." Fuller added that the impending debate over how to fund the FAA and efforts to transition to the satellite-based NextGen ATC system won't be easy. "But by working together we can emerge stronger," he said. Tom Poberezny, EAA chairman and president, also welcomed Babbitt's appointment. "His broad knowledge of the aviation industry should allow him to make an immediate mark on GA," he said. Poberezny added that AirVenture attendees will have an opportunity to meet Babbitt later this summer at the Meet The Administrator forum at Oshkosh.

NBAA also issued a statement welcoming Babbitt. "As a pilot, he has operational knowledge of our air transportation system. He also brings recognized expertise to our highly complex policy issues. ...Randy will be able to hit the ground running at this critical point in the evolution of our system." National Air Transportation Association President James Coyne said the appointment could have significant impact. "I am hopeful that Administrator Babbitt's confirmation will carry us over the hump towards passage of a bill that modernizes our air traffic control system, rejects user fees, and invests in airport infrastructure," Coyne said. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association also congratulated the new administrator. "NATCA believes that the ultimate success of NextGen is dependent upon collaboration between the union and the FAA," said NATCA President Patrick Forrey. "We hope that is now possible under Randy's leadership, allowing key NextGen modernization projects, airspace redesign and changes to air traffic control procedures to move forward safely and effectively." Babbitt was formerly an airline pilot and served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

New York's Aviation Tax Break Due To Expire

Five years ago, New York passed a law that exempts general aviation aircraft repairs, maintenance and parts from state sales tax, but that tax break will expire on Dec. 1 if legislators don't re-enact it. Albany County Airport Authority CEO John O'Donnell told the Albany Times-Union this week that the exemption created "a substantial boom in business," and he is working for its renewal. In addition, he'd like to see sales tax on aircraft purchases eliminated. Like other states, New York is looking for ways to boost revenue rather than offer exemptions, but O'Donnell says many nearby states provide sales-tax relief and such taxes can be an important factor when companies are deciding where to locate. The current exemptions were a factor in deciding to build a HondaJet maintenance facility in New York, Molly Martin Pearce, a spokeswoman for HondaJet East, told the Times-Union. "Some of our other candidate sites were in states that didn't have this exemption," she said.

NBAA said recently that an onerous luxury tax proposal on business aircraft has been removed from the New York state budget, but under the current proposal previously exempt transactions could now be subject to sales or use tax at a rate of up to 8.75 percent.

New Branson West GA Airport To Open This Year

As the first privately built commercial airport in the U.S., Branson Airport got a lot of attention when it opened earlier this month, but another airport is due to open nearby soon -- a municipal general aviation field. While that's not a first, it happens all too rarely in these times when the news is more often about GA fields closing down. The Branson West Municipal Airport is just about 20 miles from Branson, Mo., and will feature a 5,000-foot airstrip, a taxiway, a terminal building, fuel, and about 30 hangars. The airfield is now under construction, after years of planning, and is expected to be up and running by this December.

Most of the land was donated to the city, which will invest about $16 million to complete the project. The city hopes to attract business and industry with the new airport. The Branson region is a popular vacation destination, with more than 50 live music venues, 12 championship golf courses, a theme park and other attractions.

FAA Bird Radar Tests To Expand This Summer

The FAA has been experimenting with ways to detect bird movements with radar for quite a while, but since an airliner had to ditch in New York in January after its engines ingested birds, interest in the systems has intensified. The FAA told the Wall Street Journal this week that a test of avian radar in Seattle, which started in 2007, has been promising, and new experiments will be deployed this summer in Chicago and New York. "We're very excited about the technologies out there and the ones to come," said Michael O'Donnell, FAA director of airport safety and standards. The FAA system still gets too many "false positive" radar returns to be reliable, showing returns from ground equipment, airplanes, weather, and even insects.

However, a company that makes bird-detection equipment for the military told the WSJ its gear is ready now to be deployed in control towers. "The notion that these bird radars aren't ready for prime time is wrong," said Adam Kelly, chief technology officer for DeTect. "You can tell the difference between small birds that would just be a blood smear on a plane or big birds that could be catastrophic." DeTect and the FAA have talked about working together but so far the two parties haven't agreed on a plan. The Web site for DeTect says its operating software was specifically developed to track the unique characteristics of birds and provides superior performance over systems using modified aircraft or marine radar software. An Air Force user of the system in Nebraska told the WSJ that the most significant problem with the DeTect system is that it can be hard to distinguish between rain and birds, but he said the system is helpful, especially at night.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."

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News Briefs back to top 

Continental Accuses Pilots Of Pension Scam

Continental Airlines says nine of its senior pilots divorced their spouses so they could collect early settlements of up to $900,000 from the airline's pension fund, and later got remarried. Continental says the divorces were intended only to secure the cash long before the pilots normally would have been eligible, but at least one of those accused told ABC News that her divorce and later reconciliation were not falsified. Cindy Ernst said her divorce was real, and her reconciliation was none of the airline's business. Another pilot, Jay Ellis, told the Associated Press: "We were divorced -- that's legal and aboveboard. They can say what they want, but a judge signed ours."

Continental said in its lawsuit that the divorces were "subterfuges or sham transactions" that were motivated solely by a desire to obtain lump-sum distributions from their pension funds. One of the accused pilots agreed to repay the money and kept his job, but the others have all been fired or resigned. Continental alleges that the pilots continued to live with their spouses after divorcing and concealed the divorce from friends and relatives. Pilots at other airlines have lost much of their pension after their employers declared bankruptcy, and Continental said that a fear of similar losses may have motivated the pilots to attempt to get the early payout.

On the Fly ...

AOPA has asked the FAA to postpone its recent airworthiness directive affecting more than 17,000 Cessna 150s and 152s...

The new FAA funding bill mandates twice-yearly inspections of Part 145 certificated repair facilities located abroad, which has the Aircraft Electronics Association concerned...

The NTSB has released a preliminary report on the Ecoflyer accident in which the company president died...

Time Magazine provides a brief history of GPS.

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.
New on AVweb back to top 

Question of the Week: Are You (And Your Airport) Ready for Hoverpods?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked how the TSA's proposal for security badges at GA airports might affect our readers.

We could have predicted that the most popular response would be it's nonsense and is another nail in the coffin of GA — but we have to admit, we were a little surprised that a full 76% of respondents chose that answer, leaving the second most popular choice (it's a pain but shouldn't cause a lot of problems) behind in the dust (accounting for only 5% of responses).

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.)


Although the personal air vehicle has long been a goal for dreamers and schemers, new technology seems to be enabling machines that will be able to raise people from the surface but won't necessarily be airplanes. AVweb wants to know what pilots think about sharing the skies with these devices.

How do you feel about so-called personal aerial vehicles?
(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 Insider Blog: Colgan — No Experience Equals No Judgment

Regardless of the probable cause, the first officer of Colgan Flight 3407 admitted she had never seen ice and couldn't make judgments about it. To AVweb's Paul Bertorelli, that, more than anything, points to a broken advanced training system in general aviation. And in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Paul says the aviation press has a hand in it.

Read more.

Over 18,000 Happy GAMIjectors® Customers Can't Be Wrong!
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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.

27 Years of the RVator
Over half the airplanes at GNB are Vans homebuilts. In fact, over 6,100 have been completed and are flying. If a 200 mph, 9 gph airplane intrigues you, this is where to learn more. It's 500 pages of builder and flyer advice written by Vans Aircraft, specifically on the RV-3 through RV-10. Nothing will describe the building experience better, and nothing will be more useful once you start. Buy the book, CD, or eBook at AVwebBooks.com for $29.95.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Don't Miss Our Live Broadcast Thursday Morning

Russ and Dan will be broadcasting live again on Thursday, May 28, at 10am EDT (2pm GMT) from Watertown, South Dakota.

Tune in here for the live feed.

Exclusive Video: Fiddling Around America, Part 2

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

How do you get a 25,000-pound DC-3 out of a muddy airport infleld? With shovels, nylon webbing, a tractor and a lot of head-scratching.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Exclusive Video: F-16 Fighting Falcon Cockpit Tour

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

At Edwards Air Force Base, AVweb's Glenn Pew had the chance to take a quick look around the cockpit of an F-16 Viper — F-16 folks never use the official name of "Fighting Falcon" — courtesy of military test pilot Desmond Brophy.

If you're wondering what test pilots are doing in a relatively senior and proven airframe, the answer lies in continuous improvement and the fact that the airframe itself is far from the only thing that changes the flight characteristics of a modern fighter. These aircraft are inherently unstable, and, though they are flown by pilots, it's computers that keep them in the air. When changes are made to the hardware, software, or weapons systems that give these aircraft their edge, test pilots are sent up to evaluate the effects of those changes on the aircrafts performance, capability, and controllability.

But enough with the big picture — click the "play" button for your guided tour of the front office.

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.

Video Marketplace Spotlight

RANS S-7 Light Sport Aircraft
Dave Martin from Kitplanes magazine visits RANS founder Randy Schlitter for the lowdown on the S-7 light sport aircraft kit and all the ways consumers can get their hands on it.

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

Economic Challenges Call for Proven Advertising Results — AVweb Delivers Results
Since 1995, AVweb has been the most comprehensive no-cost aviation site online. Advertisers reach over 255,000 pilots, aircraft owners, and aviation professionals via a unique and effective combination of newsletter text messages and web site banner ads. Links send readers directly to advertisers' web sites for instant information. Click now for details on AVweb's cost-effective programs.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Utah Jet Center (KLGU, Logan, UT)

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

We love to hear stories about FBOs going above-and-beyond to make things happen for pilots and their passengers, and our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Utah Jet Center at KLGU in Logan, Utah, where "above and beyond" are just another day at the office. AVweb reader Bruce Spencer tells the tale:

My wife and I ... landed at Logan for the evening, and I noticed that the left brake was inoperative. We taxied to the Utah Jet Center where a ramp attendant guided us in to park. He asked about out flight and then asked what they could do for us. I explained that we needed fuel, would like to have the brakes looked at, and that we were looking for a place to stay in Logan for the night. ... [H]e immediately called a mechanic, offered us a very nice courtesy car, gave us some bottled water, and called three different hotels to check availability and get us a corporate rate. Before we left for the night he gave us the cell phone number of the mechanic and asked for ours so that the mechanic could contact us. He said they would top off the tanks and tie the plane down for the night.

About an hour later, we got a call from the mechanic explaining the brake problem, the cost to fix it, and telling us that he would fix it that night and that the plane would be ready in the morning. When we arrived back at the airport at 7:30 am the plane was fully fueled, the brakes were repaired and the plane was ready to go. ... We were 100% satisfied with our experience with the Utah Jet Center at Logan airport and would highly recommend them to anyone flying into Logan or stopping there en route to another destination.

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!

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week Will Return This Monday ...

We've got lots of great photos to share this week, and they'll be up on the site late in the day on Thursday — but we didn't have quite enough time to put out fires Wednesday night and fight about our favorite reader-submitted photos, so we're saving the fisticuffs for tomorrow. Don't fret: We'll have plenty of great pics for you in Monday's issue of AVwebFlash and on the home page later today.

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.