October 16, 2003
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by
If you have a beef with the way the FAA has treated you during an investigation, you may soon be able to have all the facts reviewed by a third party. That's part of the fallout resulting from the crash of a Cessna Citation near Branson, Mo., on Dec. 9, 1999, which killed all six on board. While the NTSB ruled pilot stress, fatigue, rainy weather and poor visibility contributed to the crash, particular focus has been placed on the two Kansas City FAA officials who were accused of harassing pilot Joe Brinell. The pilot's wife, Grace Brinell, told investigators her husband was distressed by what he perceived as FAA harassment after he responded to enforcement actions by the Flight Standards District Office against one of the College of the Ozarks' mechanics and its aircraft repair station. Joe Brinell, who was aviation director at the College of the Ozarks, flew the Citation into a wooded hillside five miles from the College of the Ozarks' airport at Point Lookout in mist and fog. In subsequent months, the agency said a review of maintenance records had prompted the FAA to re-examine Brinell's competency. The district office abandoned the effort after Brinell appealed to FAA regional headquarters in Kansas City. Two weeks before the accident, district officials asked for Brinell's pilot logbooks, saying they thought he had administered flight tests without appropriate authorization.
While FAA investigations into pilot records are not uncommon, the methods and tactics used by the Kansas City officials have been called into question. U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) helped launch the investigation into the FAAs actions over Brinell. As a result, Department of Transportation Inspector General Kenneth Mead determined in a January report that the FAA abused its regulatory power and "induced stress" on Brinell. Acting on the report, the FAA changed the job titles of the two men but has not publicly released their names. Last week Blunt announced the agency had put new policies in place in response to his pressure and the inspector general's report, and chief among them is the right to third-party review for complaints about FAA investigations. The agency also promises to improve the processing, documentation and record retention for investigations. The FAA is also going to try to ensure that those who are being investigated by the agency are fully aware of their rights when they disagree with the decision handed down. There will also be training "to reinforce a strict code of professionalism among inspectors." Blunt said he supports the personnel and operational changes undertaken by the FAA. However, the agency said the Flight Standards District Office was still working to implement all of the prescribed policy changes and didn't say when they might be in place.
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An Algerian-born pilot has successfully sued one of Britain's largest newspapers for libel after he was arrested there, at the request of the FBI, just after 9/11. Now Lotfi Raissi is going after the U.S. government. Raissi spent five months in London's Belmarsh and was freed in February 2002. Raissi now claims to have been defamed by U.S. government agencies and has won his case against the Daily Mail, of London. In one of its articles headlined "Flight Terror Suspect Stole Identity of 74-year-old Grandmother," the paper claimed Mr. Raissi had dishonestly used the social security number of a dead grandmother, Dorothy Hansen, to create a fake U.S. identity. Raissi claims the editorial put his life at risk during the incarceration. After a long legal battle, Raissi won his libel case with the newspaper. The newspaper publicly apologized "for any distress caused" and had agreed to pay Mr. Raissi an undisclosed amount of damages and reimbursement of his legal costs. "It wasn't a matter of money. It was a matter of principal and clearing my name," Raissi told the BBC. "The most important thing is that justice prevailed."
With the libel suit behind him, Raissi promises to go after the U.S. government in another legal battle. This one may prove a bit more difficult, as he claims several government agencies and President George W. Bush himself are at fault. On Raissis behalf, attorney Paul Hoffman submitted administrative claims to the FBI and Justice Department last month. This opens the doors for a suit to be filed against the federal agencies in U.S. District Court. But since Raissi is facing criminal charges in Phoenix, of making false statements on behalf of a friend seeking political asylum, it's unlikely he'll risk arrest to pursue the suit. "Of course, I would be arrested," he admitted to The Arizona Republic. "But there is justice. I believe that President Bush said this is a fight against terrorism, not against innocent people ..." he added. The claims accuse federal agents and Justice Department officials of false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, negligence and other civil rights violations. Raissi also claims he has been blacklisted by airlines and has been unable to get back in a cockpit for more than two years.
Raissi is not the only pilot to be affected by post-9/11 security concerns and he may not be the last. As AVweb previously reported, the TSA remains the sole arbiter of who is (or isn't) a security risk worthy of having his or her airman certificate pulled. An amendment requiring a third party to review such suspensions is contained in the FAA Reauthorization Bill that is currently stalled in Congress over air traffic control privatization. To date, 13 foreign pilots have had their U.S. certificates taken away because of security considerations since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but seven of those appealed and three were reinstated after a review. AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association and other groups have lobbied for another avenue of appeal for the affected pilots.
AEROSANCE PowerLink FADEC APPLICATIONS GROW With STCs for a number of Beech Bonanza and Baron models now in hand, Aerosance, another Teledyne Technologies company, is highlighting the latest developments with their revolutionary PowerLink FADEC digital engine control system. For more information on how to bring your aircraft into the FADEC generation visit the experts at TCM's AOPA Expo Booth #812, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tcm
The Vantage jet may fly after all. Two men have purchased the assets of the bankrupt VisionAire Corp. with the hope of bringing the defunct jet program back into full swing. Matt Eller and Joel Goodman paid $441,000 to a St. Louis bankruptcy court for the estimated $110 million worth of technology, engineering equipment, parts and avionics systems. The plane's mock-up, trailer and other computer equipment have already been moved to an office building in Ames, Iowa, where the partners hope to resume production. Ames was home for VisionAires original headquarters and factory. In November 1996, a prototype of the jet first flew, but never did meet FAA requirements. At the same time, the company built the jet-assembly plant in Ames and planned to create 150 jobs, but never moved in. In 2002, VisionAire was forced into involuntary bankruptcy after accruing debt totaling more than $35 million, including $317,000 owed to the city of Ames. Nevertheless, Eller and Goodman are confident they can make the Vantage a flying reality. A one time, VisionAire had 490 investors, including 160 in Iowa. There is no indication of how many of those have joined the new partners efforts.
On Tuesday, EAA released some new data that shows the number of homebuilt aircraft is on the rise. The Oshkosh-based organization claims the homebuilt-aircraft segment has shown steady growth and there are now more than 25,000 U.S.-registered homebuilt aircraft. They account for more than 15 percent of the single-engine piston-powered general aviation fleet. EAA says about 1,000 additional homebuilt aircraft have received their airworthiness certificates and been added to the FAA register each year since the late 1980s. According to the organization, the number of new homebuilt aircraft registered annually surpassed the number of factory-built airplanes produced in many of the years cited. EAA says this substantial growth can be attributed to a growing number of aircraft kits, improved safety programs and the growth of support programs, like the EAAs Flight Advisor and Technical Counselor programs. Anyone who has ever attended the annual AirVenture event in Oshkosh can personally see the popularity of these types of aircraft. Didnt make it this year? The Discovery Wings Channel will premiere "Oshkosh 2003: Centennial Edition," a one-hour special focusing on this year's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, on Wednesday, October 22, at 9 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CT).
The last flight of the famed Concorde is nearly upon us, and many aviation enthusiasts, historians and those who want a last peek at the aircraft are planning to bid it farewell in style. Thousands of people are expected to pack Londons Heathrow airport to watch the final flight of Concorde on Oct. 24. Special grandstands will be built at the airport where onlookers will watch Captain Mike Bannister land the aircraft for the last time on a commercial flight. While the event will be broadcast on UK television, American audiences will see the aircrafts departure courtesy of NBC. On Thursday, the winning bidder of an eBay auction for the last two available seats will appear live on NBC News' "Today," the day before they depart on the famous flight. On Friday the networks Travel Editor Peter Greenberg will report live from JFK Airport in New York as he and the auction winners check in their bags on Concorde's final commercial flight. The auction began Oct. 13 and stays open through noon EDT, Monday, Oct. 20. In all the hoopla over Concorde's last flight, it's worth mentioning that this week also marks the anniversary of the first-ever supersonic flight. On Oct. 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager piloted the Bell X-1 faster than the speed of sound above the California desert. The rest, as they say, is history.
DIAMOND ENGINEERS REDESIGN DA40 PANEL TO OPTIMIZE FORM AND FUNCTION Diamond's DA40 is the platform for the first certified installation of Garmin's new integrated glass panel. The G1000 offers better situational awareness by rolling the functions of conventional panel-mounted instruments into two 10-inch sunlight-readable displays, including digital audio, a WAAS-capable IFR GPS, VHF navigation with ILS and VHF communication, 8.33-kHz-channel spacing, Mode S, solid-state attitude and heading, a digital air data computer and optional weather and terrain data all hooked up to a Bendix/King KAP two-axis autopilot. The jet-style, laser-etched polycarbonate overlay adds the final high-tech touch. For more information on the DA40, and Diamond Aircraft's other innovative aircraft designs, stop by AOPA Expo Booth #156 and the static display, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/diamond
Sure, flying has always been associated with some element of risk, but a recent government study says it's downright dangerous as jobs go. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a list of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America for 2002. In the report, examined by CNN and Money Magazine, pilots and navigators collectively were listed as having the third most dangerous jobs, following timber cutters and fishers. The CNN/Money article, cites the survey as claiming that commercial pilots died on the job at the rate of 70 per 100,000 workers. According to the report, recent National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety stats indicate Alaskan pilots have a fatality rate four times higher than those in the lower 48 and therefore greatly influenced the data collected. The report also listed the average pay for each category and said money doesn't match the risk. "Even though pilots flying small planes have a much higher fatality rate than pilots flying big airline jets, they're not financially compensated for the added danger; non-jet pilots average about $52,000 a year in pay while jetliner pilots make about $92,000," the report said. In case youre wondering, timber fallers suffered 118 fatalities per 10,000 workers and fishers edged pilots and navigators for second spot with 71.
The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) , the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, has selected two contractors to provide new eyes in the sky for its aircraft. The hyper-spectral imaging sensors and a visual computing network allows a sensor on a moving aircraft to detect objects on the ground by picking up light reflected from those objects. The imaging equipment can detect both man-made and natural objects that have a known spectral "signature," or can be used to survey a scene to determine what is out of place. It can also detect man-made objects such as a crashed aircraft and can even search for specific types of material such as marijuana plants, if the item's signature is programmed into the imaging equipment. The visual computing network (VCN) gives users a three-dimensional view of satellite images, therefore making mission planning, rehearsal and performance more effective. Both ground and air crews can use the VCN, and CAP officials feel both the VCN and hyper-spectral imaging can enhance the auxiliary's operations. Funding for the new equipment is coming from the Air Force, which has moved CAP under its Homeland Security Directorate and has been stepping up security missions for the all-volunteer, 64,000-member auxiliary.
You may surprised to hear that one of the U.S. Air Forces prized F-22s nearly crashed on Sept. 19. Thats because the government had kept the incident under wraps until a Texas newspaper broke the story. The Dallas Morning News reports an anonymous senior Air Force official confirmed the accident, which nearly cost the life of the pilot and the $161 million jet. The article claims an experienced F-15 pilot with less than 20 hours in the new Raptor attempted a dogfight maneuver that "sent the aircraft plummeting in an upside-down spiral." The article claims the F-22 plunged more than 10,000 feet before the pilot released the controls causing the F/A-22 to cease spiraling. The Air Force official told the newspaper a safety investigation board found no flaw in the airplane or any mechanical reason for the incident. For now, the development program continues, as the F-22, touted as a replacement for the F-15, is schedule to be fully operational by 2004.
FLY INTO THE FUTURE AT THE GREAT LAKES INTERNATIONAL AVIATION CONFERENCE On February 6-8, in Lansing, Michigan the Great Lakes International Aviation Conference will host a top-flight lineup of nationally known speakers with breakout seminars, hands-on displays, discussions, and an extensive maintenance program. The exhibit area will be filled with the latest products and technologies. IA renewal and the FAA Wings program are available for those who qualify. For more information call 248 348-6942 and mention this AVflash, or visithttp://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gliac
Liberty Aerospace reports FAA test pilots have completed both stall and spin characteristic flight-testing in the Liberty XL2. The tests of the two-seat single-engine aircraft were performed using maximum gross aircraft weight and maximum aft center of gravity. During that time, they flew over 20 hours and completed 32 spins and numerous stalls in different aircraft configurations, including power-on, power-off, flaps-up and flaps-down at both 20 degrees and 30 degrees to simulate takeoff and landing stalls. The company announced it received its Type Inspection Authorization on Sept. 23...
JetBlue Airways has proposed an industry-wide plan to offer car-seat-style restraints on flights. The low-cost carrier is working collectively with Amsafe Inc., an Arizona-based aircraft seat belt manufacturer, to outfit its fleet of Airbus A320s with the new system. They proposed a webbed harness to constrain a child weighing between 22 and 44 pounds, which in many cases would apply to children between the ages of two and four. Lap belts would be used with the double-shouldered device to restrain the passenger around the torso. An adjustable strap would wrap around the seat to secure the device...
A new security threat has been identified by the federal government, which may affect the way airline passengers are screened. U.S. intelligence has concluded that pillows, coats and even stuffed animals can be used by Al Qaeda operatives to apply special chemicals to the material inside to transform them into bombs. In August, the Department of Homeland Security sent a memo to airlines and airport security officials around the world highlighting this possible risk. The report cited several indications that Al Qaeda is attempting to create a chemical called nitrocellulose to produce explosive devices that could be smuggled aboard airliners...
Sydney, Australias jet fuel supply is about 90 percent back to normal. As AVweb previously reported, Sydneys international airport has been forced to deal with a crippling fuel shortage, which caused the delay of several international flights. The shortage caused missed flights, and lawsuits have been threatened. The shortfall was the result of a delayed shipment as well as planned and unplanned production disruptions at local refineries.
Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Jeff Hartner, this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com. Rules and information are at http://www.avweb.com/contact/newstips.html.
AT BENNETT AVIONICS THEY DISCOUNT THE PRICE--NOT THEIR SERVICE! Used avionics is Bennett Avionics' only business. Find the avionics equipment to meet your aircraft's needs while leaving enough money for avfuel! Bennett stocks a complete line of used avionics that will add tremendous capability to your aircraft at a price that makes sense. Bennett also purchases used avionics equipment and will work out an exchange for newer electronics. Bennett Avionics-your one-stop used avionics specialist at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/bennett
GAMIJECTORS CAN CUT YOUR AIRCRAFT'S FUEL BILL BY 20 PERCENT! If you're tired of being grounded by sky-high gas prices, install GAMIjectors. Balanced fuel/air ratios make your engine run smoother, cooler, and more efficiently. Talk to GAMI's experts during AOPA Expo in Booth #206, or order a kit online for your Continental or Lycoming engine at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gami
We received over 100 pictures last week. Congratulations to this week's winner, John M. Hermann, of Sheboygan, Wisc. His picture titled "On Target" captures the exact moment a pilot
tries to land his Cessna Skyhawk as close as possible to the chalk line in a precision landing contest. Not only are these events fun but they also helped hone our flying skills. Great picture,
John! Your AVweb hat is on the way.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
To check out the winning picture, or to enter next week's contest, go to http://www.avweb.com/potw
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view a larger version.
"Radial Engine Heaven"
" The Greatest Place To Be on a nice day...or anytime"
*** PREVIOUS RESULTS ***
We received over 200 responses to our question last week on business aviations recovery. Over half (56 percent) of those responding felt business aviation, lime all segments of the aviation industry, have greatly suffered since 9/11 from an economical standpoint and with the numerous flight restrictions sill in place.
To check out the complete results, or to respond to this week's question, go to http://www.avweb.com/qotw.
*** THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
This week, we would like to know your thoughts on unusual attitude training.
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note, this address is ONLY for suggested QOTW questions, and NOT for QOTW answers.
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CPA EXPERTS ANSWER YOUR CESSNA QUESTIONS DURING AOPA EXPO 2003 Experts from the Cessna Pilots Association (CPA) will be on hand at AOPA Expo Booth #710 to answer all questions concerning your Cessna aircraft. If you aren't attending AOPA Expo go online for all the benefits of CPA membership including terrific hands-on seminars at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cpa
PRACTICE NAVIGATING AND TALKING TO ATC ON YOUR PC WITH COMM 1! Comm 1 has added an interactive multimedia AvTutorials navigation training software to their line of high-quality aviation educational products. These are effective and engaging training tools for both navigation and radio communications, the two toughest skills for most pilots to learn. SPECIAL: $10 discount on each additional CD with the purchase of two or more Comm1 or AvTutorial navigation training products. Save up to $50.00 when you buy all 6 CD-ROMs! See all Comm 1's products at AOPA Booth #648, or order online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/comm1
STOP WONDERINGOR WORRYINGWHERE YOUR FRIENDS ARE! Friends flying in today? A business colleague coming in for a meeting? Will your partner be back before you need the airplane? Find out where in the air they are with the AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer. Sign up for a quarterly subscription for just $9.95 a month and receive an introductory month at no cost! Go to http://www.avweb.com/30day
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GLEIM OFFERS 15% DISCOUNT ON THE FAR/AIM 2004 EDITION IN BOTH SIZES! Receive 15% off both the desk and flight bag size FAR/AIM 2004. And, for AVweb subscribers only...for less than $25 you can ensure you know the rules, regulations, and procedures with Gleim's Private Pilot Refresher Course (PPRC), plus it counts towards the FAA Wings program. Take a no-cost lesson, and order Gleim publications and products at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gleim
GOING TO AOPA EXPO? GO BY & THANK THOSE WHO BRING YOU NO-COST AVFLASH! AVflash sponsors appreciate knowing you are a subscriber. Print out the sponsors list at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/aopalist
AVIATION CONSUMER'S NOVEMBER ISSUE REVIEWS THE NEW GPS FROM LOWRANCE Along with finding the best wax or sealant; what pilots are getting out of FAA's new Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS); new vacuum pumps fight for the market; continuing two-part series on using private aircraft for business travel; and Used Aircraft Guide evaluates the Beechcraft 55 Baron series. Order your subscription at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/belvoir/avcons
LET FALL DAYS SLIP BY IN TOTAL RELAXATION The autumn issue of Pilot Getaways magazine has lined up fly-in destinations perfect for the total relaxation experienced in beautiful surroundings. But if you have energy to burn, you can kayak, hike, camp, fish, sail, and golf to your heart's content. For these autumn destinations across the United States, Pilot Getaways gives all the details for a full day's play or, kick back and watch the world go by. Subscribe to Pilot Getaways at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/getaways
GOT AN IFR TICKET? THINK YOU KNOW IT ALL? THINK AGAIN. Now that you have that IFR ticket it's just the beginning of your IFR experience. Rod Machado's Instrument Pilot's Survival Manual, newly expanded and revised, is real world flying. This manual will boost your IFR skills interpreting GPS approach charts and teaches things you just won't find in other books. More than a refresher-corporate and airline pilots use it too. Rod Machado makes learning fun...just like flying should be. Order at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/machado
COME BY AND SAY "HELLO" TO AVWEB AT AOPA EXPO AVweb personnel will be at Booth #502 during the AOPA Expo, October 29-November 1, in Philadelphia. And don't forget to tell friends and colleagues about no-cost AVweb/AVflash subscription. They can sign up online at http://www.avweb.com/profile_____________________________________
AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com
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Today's issue written by News Writer Arturo Weiss:
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Let's all be careful out there, okay?
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