AVwebFlash Complete Issue:

June 8, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Border-Crossing Brouhaha back to top 
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Pilot Protests Customs 'Check'

Baja Bush Pilots, a group representing pilots who frequently fly to Mexico, is polling members to see if any have had an encounter with Customs and Border Protection agents similar to the experience of Long Beach, Calif. pilot David Perry and his three passengers a couple of weeks ago. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Perry says he was going through his pre-start checklist for a flight to Loreto, Mexico on May 22 when his Cessna 210 was suddenly surrounded by yelling CBP agents and local airport police, weapons drawn (the Customs agents had M-16s) who ordered them out of the airplane. "They were yelling at us to put our hands on our heads," said Perry, a retired military officer who said he makes frequent flights to his second home in Loreto. What followed was almost an hour of interrogation and searches for what was apparently a "random check" according to the senior agent in charge of the operation Perry said. "I couldn't believe I was in the United States," Perry said. AVweb contacted the Los Angeles field office of Customs and Border Protection and a spokeswoman said a statement is being prepared but would not be available before our publication deadline. AVweb will carry a follow-up story on the CBP's take on the incident as soon as the statement is transmitted.

Perry said he's since heard from another pilot who told him armed CBP agents in cars and a helicopter surrounded his aircraft on arrival at Long Beach on a flight from Texas. Perry said he's not opposed to security checks but he considered the agents unnecessarily threatening and aggressive for a random check. He also said the drawn weapons, besides terrifying him and his passengers, needlessly put them at risk. After the incident, he was cleared to resume the flight. It seems likely the agents knew when to intercept the flight based on the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) which, under recently adopted regulations, requires pilots of all cross-border flights to provide detailed information on the flight and the identities of passengers.

Related Content:
Podcast interview with David Perry

Business Aviation Will Help Companies Not Only Survive
But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

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Mommy, Where Do New Airplanes Come From? back to top 

Air Force Champions Large Scale Composite Construction

The Air Force Research Laboratory and Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works have, on June 2, flown their Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft (ACCA), which they say "has the potential to change aircraft manufacturing as we presently know it, for the better." ACCA program manager Barth Shenk's words reinforce that the aircraft itself isn't designed to be a prototype airframe so much as it is a proof-of-concept technology demonstrator for a composite manufacturing process. The aircraft is basically a modified Dornier 328J in this case built from very large composite sections that are cured and bonded in room-sized ovens. The size of the ovens allows massive parts when compared with what can be produced in more traditional smaller autoclaves, thus minimizing parts counts and complexity during assembly. Compared to the Dornier 328J's metal aircraft structure, which utilizes roughly 3,000 parts and 30,000 fasteners, the parts count for the ACCA is about 300 parts and 4,000 fasteners. That means significant time and money saved. More important, Shenk believes the benefits are not lost to but may be magnified by scale and further improved by the characteristics of composites themselves.

Shenk believes that the ACCA manufacturing process can be applied to larger aircraft with the result of significantly lower costs when compared to other manufacturing techniques. In general terms, where traditional aircraft require more parts and more labor as they increase in size, the ACCA's process does not. Also, the composites are expected to better withstand corrosion than metals and provide greater strength per weight along with more flexibility in design. ACCA's initial demonstration flight took place June 2 in Palmdale, Calif.

United's Bid For 150 New Aircraft

United's bid to replace up to 150 of the larger airliners in its fleet is poised to take advantage of a lagging economy and likely intended to cause a potential bidding war, but some feel it may be a sign the airline is having difficulty raising capital against older aircraft. The airline, which currently flies both major manufacturers' products, has asked Boeing and Airbus to generate bids for the potential order that may earn one of them anywhere from $10 billion to $20 billion in orders depending on final aircraft selected, discounts applied and order size. Each manufacturer is theoretically motivated by recent history that's buffeted the industry, first with a 2008 spike in oil prices followed by an international recession and worldwide financial crisis -- all of which led to order deferrals from customers. Outfitting its fleet with new models from either major manufacturer would promise better efficiency and route flexibility for United, aside from the impact it may have on customer decision-making. But the move itself doesn't necessarily mean the company is flush with cash. Actually, at least some analysts appear to be arguing that it may mean the opposite.

In the short term, United's investment (if it happens) has some adverse affects on its market standing as financial analysts at J.P. Morgan used the news to lower the airline's stock rating. Those analysts may believe a purchase signals United's difficulty in raising capital against an aging fleet and a creative way to free up cash. United could sell off older, less efficient aircraft in a better used-aircraft market in exchange for generous recession-inspired payment plans on more efficient new aircraft -- aircraft that may also prove to be better assets to borrow against as the price of oil rises. United's fleet of 400 includes nearly 100 senior Boeing 757s and some older wide-bodies. Boeing and Airbus will have order backlogs that stretch multiple years into the future regardless of any new orders that may be acquired from United, but both manufacturers have trimmed (or have plans to trim) production of certain models to match the soft market.

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Manufacturers Cope with Legal, Financial Concerns back to top 

Pilot Negligent, But Cirrus Party To $14 Million Penalty

A Minnesota jury has found that though the pilot was 25 percent negligent in the January 2003 fatal crash of an SR-22 that killed him and a passenger near Hill City, Minn., Cirrus and the University of North Dakota were 75 percent negligent. The result of the case hinges on the jury's belief that that the pilot had purchased and was promised training that he did not receive and that his lack of that training was a direct factor in the crash. The NTSB's factual report states that an individual requested an abbreviated briefing for the flight noting that conditions at the departure airport were 2,800 feet overcast and that he was "hoping to slide underneath it then climb out." One witness who observed the aircraft flying approximately 100 feet above trees noted the engine sound was smooth, the aircraft seemed to be following a road (a notion echoed by at least one other witness) and added "that thing was moving." The witness stated that weather at that location was clear and moon lit. Another witness who saw the post-impact "fireball" stated that weather at his location was clear with a full moon. Cirrus and North Dakota's Aerospace Foundation were sued by the families of the two crash victims claiming they were negligent and had failed to train the pilot to fly the aircraft in bad weather.

The 47-year-old pilot, Gary Prokop, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating and a third-class medical, according to the NTSB. Prokop had logged 57 hours of instrument time with 248 hours total and almost 19 in the SR-22. Cirrus Design and the University of North Dakota had provided four flights accounting for 12.5 hour flight hours, plus 5.3 hours of ground instruction. Prokop was given a VFR-only completion certificate and high-performance endorsement limited to the SR-22 upon his completion of the course, Dec. 12, roughly one month prior to his fatal crash. Jurors awarded $9 million to Prokop's family. Cirrus is considering an appeal.

More Layoffs At Cessna

A few days after Cirrus recalled 50 employees, Cessna has held true to its word and Friday distributed 700 60-day layoff notices to salaried employees as part of 1,300 cuts announced in April along with suspension of the company's Columbus business jet program. The total company-wide carnage at Cessna had been sitting at 6,900 layoffs announced since November; the latest cuts are in addition to that. Those cuts mean the workforce at Cessna has been nearly halved. Next, Cessna is planning a four-week shutdown, according to Kansas.com, and the company will make a fourth revision since late 2008 to its production outlook. Where it originally planned to produce 535 jets in 2009, cancellations had dropped the company's most recently projections to under 300 with mid- to large-size jets taking the biggest hits in the form of order cancellations. While demand for the smaller Cessna Mustang remains good, its lower price point means the company's profit per unit are also lower. Still, while Cessna sheds jobs and orders, its order backlog remains in the billions while it's falling.

Cessna held a $13 billion backlog as late as this March, but analysts predict the company could drop more than 150 orders from its books before August. That would purge billions and in one quarter drop the $13 billion backlog closer to $10 billion.

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Following Up on Crash Investigations back to top 

Stanford Doctor Crash Shows Holes In Medical Screening

Neurosurgeon Doyle Borchers' night flight from Palo Alto to Reno on Aug. 7, 2008, in a Cessna 172S was not authorized by his student pilot certificate and through investigation of his fatal crash that night the FAA and NTSB have found his body contained traces of a wide variety of drugs. The NTSB has not yet released a final report, but a recent update shows the doctor, 41, was influenced by Prozac, mood stabilizers, opiates, anti-psychotic drugs and cocaine. The drug mix in Borchers' system also included buprenorphine, which Borchers prescribed to his own patients who suffered from heroin addiction, according to the doctor's Web site profile. Review of the pilot's FAA medical records show he indicated "no" in December, 2007, in response to "do you currently use any medication" and similarly to "mental disorders of any sort" and "substance dependence." Borcher was on April 22, 2008, accused by the Executive Director of the Medical Board of California of having a history of substance dependence and abuse for more than 10 years and documented an abuse of substances including alcohol. His spouse said he was being treated for addiction anxiety and depression at the time of the accident.

Borchers' final trip took the 97-hour student pilot over the Sierra Nevada mountain range at night. He crashed two miles north of Incline Village, Nev., at 9:30 p.m., on a desolate mountainside. His work at Stanford University School of Medicine included working alongside Dr. John Adler, who invented a device used in treatment of brain tumors. Borchers had suggested a way to use the technology "to treat the neurological roots of addiction," the Mercury News reported.

Schrenker Pleads Guilty To Crash Charges

Marcus Schrenker's Piper PA46-500TP Malibu Meridian crashed January 11 in the Florida panhandle, without him aboard, and Schrenker Friday pleaded guilty to intentionally crashing an airplane and sending false distress calls related to his use of the aircraft in an alleged attempt to fake his own death. The 38-year-old Indiana fund manager was president of Heritage Wealth Management as the U.S. economy faltered in late 2008. His January flight took him from Indiana to Birmingham, which is roughly where he parachuted out of the aircraft. Schrenker had filed a flight plan to Destin, Fla., where his father lives, but en route sent distress calls via radio saying he had been injured, was bleeding and the aircraft was losing altitude. He followed those with transmissions that he was losing consciousness, then leveled the aircraft at 3,500 feet, put it on autopilot and jumped, landing safely under canopy, according to U.S. attorney Tiffany Eggers. Examination of a laptop later recovered with Schrenker when he was found by U.S. Marshals in a campground near Quincy, Fla., showed he had searched the internet for advice on parachuting from aircraft and "security fraud penalties," according to Bloomberg.

Schrenker faces sentencing Aug. 19. He could go to jail for 20 years on the charge of intentionally crashing the airplane and six years for prompting the Coast Guard search. He could also be fined up to $500,000 and will likely have to pay the Coast Guard $38,000 for costs related to the search. He has not asked to be released on bail. His lawyer, Thomas Keith, told the court Schrenker intend the plane to crash in the Gulf of Mexico rather than the neighborhood in Milton, Fla., where it ended up after running out of fuel. Keith told reporters he's hoping Schrenker's guilty plea will result in a reduced sentence. Schrenker is still also under investigation by Indiana authorities for his investment practice. In that case, the state charges Schrenker acted as an investment advisor without proper credentials.

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Air France Investigation Continues back to top 

Air France 447 Investigation, Bodies Found

News came Sunday that 17 bodies from Air France flight 447 were found roughly 400 miles northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast. Friday French officials concluded that "wreckage" found by Brazilian authorities in the ocean and an observed 12-mile long oil slick were not in fact from the Air France Airbus A330 that was lost last Sunday with all 228 aboard. Amid reports of the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) data, which were reportedly sent from the aircraft in its final four minutes, Airbus Friday urged operators to review procedures for flying while receiving conflicting or "incoherent" air data information on the flight deck. Also Friday, an Air France memo obtained by the Associated Press states that pitot tubes are being replaced on the airline's jets. This has led to increased speculation from mainstream media sources that the A330 had entered turbulent air at an improper speed while operating in a confined stall/overspeed performance regime -- at 35,000 feet, roughly 5,000 feet from its service ceiling. While speculation continues, so too do the effects of debris earlier thought to be wreckage, which significantly impacted the search, stretching limited first response resources and widening the search area by 300 miles. With the debris and oil slick set aside, developing theories that the aircraft impacted the water without suffering a pre-impact explosion or substantial fire are no longer so readily supported and reports from an Air Comet flight out of Lima for Lisbon may attract significant interest.

Pilots of the Air Comet flight, which flew near AF 447 in a similar time frame, reported seeing an intense white flash in the distance followed by descending light that either broke up into six segments or disappeared in six seconds. The last part of the sentence is indicative of a prevailing problem that confronts the early phase of the investigation, information sharing and its dissemination -- distance, culture and translation. The Air Comet pilots are Spanish, the investigative agencies are largely French, the first search teams are Brazilian and much of the world is reading reports that have been translated at least once into English.

At this time, there is consensus that communications were sent by the crew that it was entering a band of thunderstorms. Meteorologists familiar with the region's aviation and forecasting suggest the storms were a type common in the area and not considered especially dangerous for aircraft. Meteorologist Tim Vasquez, who has studied the scenario and detailed at length his conclusions of the potential weather scenario facing Air France 447, went so far as to say that based on the limited available data, "I would have been comfortable with them continuing the flight." As it was, ten minutes after the crew's message, according to an unnamed source cited by various news agencies, the aircraft began sending automated messages that first indicated the autopilot had disengaged and a main computer system had switched to alternate power. Then, said the source, stabilization controls were damaged (details unclear), air data was compromised and an alarm sounded in the cockpit. Final messages indicated loss of pressurization and massive electrical failure. The FDR and CVR should send signals for 30 days. Those signals are difficult to locate in vast areas of deep water. They can be distorted, deflected and possibly obstructed by differential temperatures in deep waters and undersea terrain. The sea floor in the area of the crash may extend beyond 20,000 feet.

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Powerful Alliance Puts Muscle to Work for GA back to top 

EAA, AOPA To Work Together For GA

EAA and AOPA say they've entered into a new spirit of collaboration to promote general aviation. Senior staff from both organizations met recently to figure out how to play on each other's strengths for the common good of GA and members of both organizations, of which there is considerable crossover. "The majority of our nation's pilots belong to one or both of these organizations, so our members expect us to utilize these strengths in a way that addresses the long-term vitality of general aviation," EAA President Tom Poberezny said in a joint news release with AOPA issued Thursday. AOPA President Craig Fuller said it's a natural alliance. "This is a logical collaboration that makes sense for the greater good of general aviation," Fuller said.

Among the things that got done at the meeting was the decision to jointly hold a roundtable meeting in early 2010 that brings together representatives of all facets of GA. More details on the relationship and the specific initiatives are on the way later.

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New on AVweb back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #144: Cross-Country Planning

Brainteasers Dig through the closet and dust off Mom's old E6B flight computer, because it's time to go old school with a cross-country planning quiz. (You'll get your GPS back later.)

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

AVweb Insider Blog: Air France 447 — This One's Gonna Be Tough

The airplane's automation is a popular and understandable whipping boy. But, asks resident blogger Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider, what if the crew just drove the thing into a level 6 thunderstorm? Sometimes the simplest theories are the hardest ones to accept.

Read more.

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

AVmail: June 8, 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.

Flying's Future

We at Flying were pleased to see AVweb report that our magazine has joined the Bonnier Corp. team. With nearly 50 special interest titles, Bonnier is in a unique position to understand Flying's mission and its audience — readers who, simply stated, are passionate about flying. Indeed, Bonnier, with its long and keen experience in enthusiast titles, and Flying, the world's foremost newsstand aviation magazine, are nothing short of a perfect fit.

While it has not been previously announced, we are happy to report that Bonnier has retained the entire staff at Flying, including our lineup of popular columnists. So the September issue of the magazine, the first that will be published under Bonnier's stewardship, will represent not a fresh start but a continuation of an 82-year legacy of excellence. We expect that tradition to flourish under Bonnier.

Despite tough times for the industry, we at Flying are confident in our shared future. And we are confident that our new place as a part of an impressive media team at Bonnier will allow us opportunities to grow the magazine and its online component while remaining faithful to our mission, to provide pilots with the kind of incisive and insightful content that keeps us all in the know.

Robert Goyer
Senior Editor, Flying

Flying Fan

In my opinion, Flying magazine's staff represents a perfect balance. It is one of the best aviation magazines out there. I look forward to receiving it each month, and I read it from cover to cover. Let's hope that the new owners don't decide to "fix" something that is definitely not broken!

Sam Leach

Paying Peanuts

I have been preaching for many years that today's young pilots do not get training from many experienced instructors. The new instructors have no real-life experience, and what little they have is dual-pilot with no opportunity to make decisions for themselves. So what we get are low-time pilots who have no decision-making ability [and] no unusual attitude training and do not understand ATC.

The air carriers that hire these poorly trained employees don't have the personnel or finances to give them the proper training. So, what we have is paying peanuts and getting monkeys.

Bob Sudderth

Flight 93 Memorial

Regarding use of eminent domain for the Flight 93 memorial: Although details were sketchy, it appears the Department of the Interior (DOI) got behind and simply used this as a way to meet what amounts to an arbitrary date. I am second to no one in admiration for what the pax and crew of Flight 93 did. I was working in the Pentagon the same day. Nonetheless, failure to engage property owners in a dialogue concerning their property is unconscionable for a public agency. Hope you keep the spotlight on this until it becomes clear just what DOI thinks it's doing.

So the U.S. government is using force to build a memorial to those who fought against the terrorist warriors whose method is force? Alarmingly, several people in government don't get the concept.

Keith Sketchley

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

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

Customs Checks Causing Concerns

File Size 7.8 MB / Running Time 8:31

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

While we understand that Customs and Border Protection is tightening security for aircraft coming into the U.S., a pilot in Long Beach, Calif. says he was met by CBP agents with guns drawn when he was leaving on a flight to Mexico. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with David Perry about what he says was an unnecessarily frightening experience for him and his three passengers.

Click here to listen. (7.8 MB, 8:31)

Exclusive Video: TV News Copters Made Affordable

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

Thanks to seismic shifts in the news business, many local television outlets can no longer afford their own turbine-powered eye-in-the-sky. As a result, Robinson is doing a brisk business selling its R44-based ENG camera ship. AVweb visited Robinson in Torrance, California for a closer look.

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

Bendix/King AV8OR Demo
When Bendix/King rolled out its AV8OR portable GPS last summer, the $749 retail price — about $675 discounted — caught GPS buyers by surprise. So did the AV8OR's feature set, which includes a touchscreen interface and automotive navigation as built-in standard capability. In this video, AVweb's editors took the AV8OR out for a spin to wring out its major features.

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

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

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: First Aviation Services (KTEB, Teterboro, NJ)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to First Aviation Services at Teterboro, New Jersey's KTEB.

AVweb reader Stan Ross tells how he and his Lifeguard transplant flight team "were treated like VIPs from touchdown to take-off":

"Outstanding customer service" is truly an understatement for the quality of service, level of attention, and extremely detailed efforts to meet and/or exceed our every need. ... We arrived near midnight, and the team at First Aviation was absolutely the best I have ever seen in every regard. I eagerly look forward to a return visit for more of their great hospitality and suggestions for local amenities like the Meadowlands Diner. Top shelf in every respect.

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!

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.
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"

A pilot tried to fly non-stop from Utica, New York to Columbus, Ohio in a Warrior with 50-knot headwinds. This was from a May 16, 2002 preliminary NTSB report:

"I'm, ah, out of fuel."

"Roger, sir. Which airport do you want to try for?"

"I set up a glide here. Ah — damn."

"Three Four Five, just tell me which airport you want to go to, sir, and we'll, ah, start getting everything ready."

"Can you vector me in?"

"I can't, ah, vector — you want a vector for Rickenbacker?"

"No — ah, I don't think I'm going to make either of them."

"Yes, sir. Just state your intentions, and we'll go from there."

"I should have picked up a little more fuel."

via e-mail

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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.

Volume 15, Number 23a