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FAA inspectors have been told to immediately focus their efforts on training programs at regional airlines to ensure that they are in compliance with federal regulations, the agency said on Tuesday. "It's clear to us in looking at the February Colgan Air crash in Buffalo that there are things we should
be doing now," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "My goal is to make sure that the entire industry -- from large commercial carriers to smaller, regional operators -- is meeting our safety
standard." The agency will host a "call to action" summit in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 15, to review airline safety and pilot training. Representatives from national and regional airlines as
well as industry and labor groups are expected to participate. Officials expect the meeting to result in commitments to act in four key areas: crew education and support, professional standards and
flight discipline, training standards and performance, and mentoring relationships between mainline carriers and their regional partners.
Two congressional committees this week also are investigating aviation safety issues related to regional airlines. On Wednesday, the Senate's aviation subcommittee heard testimony about the FAA's
role in ensuring safety and security for air carriers. And on Thursday, the House aviation
subcommittee will investigate pilot workforce issues at regional airlines.
A total of 454 airports will be subject to the TSA's latest Security Directive (SD-8G) restricting the movements of transient pilots, EAA said this week. The list includes airports in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam as well as in the U.S. Click here for the full list (PDF). The directive took effect June 1 and requires pilots to "remain close to their
aircraft," leaving it only for trips to and from the FBO or airport exit, according to AOPA, although some
airports may also offer escorts to transient pilots.
Since individual airports may develop a variety of programs that would satisfy the TSA directive, pilots need to call ahead to their destinations and ask the airport operator or an FBO on the field
for information about that airport's security requirements, EAA says. The TSA is expected to provide future guidance regarding self-fueling and emergencies. The full text of the security directive has
not been made public. The new listing of airports is not the same as a list of airports (PDF) released by the TSA in
January for the Large Aircraft Security Program.
Has Zulu Changed Your Mind?
If so, we'd sure like to hear your story. We've extended our offer. Just go to the Zulu Change Your Mind web site and fill us in by June
30, and we may post it on our web site. Plus We'll give you another way to share your Zulu experience: All stories will be entered in a drawing for a headset. Win and make
a passenger very happy. For the details, go to
The FAA said this week it is working with the U.S. Air Force to find ways to allow civilian flights to regularly use
airspace that is normally reserved for the military. The effort would help to relieve delays on commercial and general aviation flights when thunderstorms, traffic, or other constraints limit the
number of planes that can pass through commercial airspace, the FAA said. Over the last year, the Department of Defense has already let the FAA use portions of special use airspace during a few
high-traffic times, such as last Thanksgiving. "Express lanes" allowed commercial flights to transit military airspace in busy regions across the country.
The FAA said it is now working to develop a more permanent way to use this airspace. One possibility under consideration would be to expand the airspace made available to the Air Force but then
subdivide it into boxes. The Air Force then could shift its operations into boxes of airspace the FAA doesn't need, and let civilian traffic fly through the boxes that allow for the most efficient
movement of airplanes. Currently the Air Force is the only military participant in the program, though the other branches of the military may participate if the effort proves successful, the FAA
A spokeswoman for the Washington headquarters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says the drawing of weapons in the ramp
inspection of an aircraft in Long Beach, Calif., last month was justified but not "normal." Kelly Ivahnenko also told AVweb that general aviation pilots can expect more ramp checks by CBP
agents thanks to the newly-instituted Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS). She stressed it's unlikely many of the checks will have the level of intensity employed May 22 with Long
Beach, Calif., pilot David Perry and his three passengers. Ivahnenko said in an interview on Tuesday that there was a "heightened alert" involved in the Long Beach operation but she also said she
could not discuss the circumstances that led to a more aggressive posture than normal by the CBP and local police. She also said that while eAPIS had nothing to do with the Long Beach inspection,
information provided through eAPIS could result in more frequent GA inspections. The system, which involves the online filing of flight and passenger information for transborder flights, became
mandatory on May 18. In an interview and podcast with AVweb, Perry said
he and his passengers were put in unnecessary peril by gun-wielding enforcement officials. Ivahnenko stressed Perry's experience is not what most pilots should expect if they're checked by the CBP.
"This I would not classify as common or routine," she said. She said the Long Beach action was justified, even though the search turned up nothing illegal. "While the involvement of more than one law
enforcement agency and the heightened alert of the situation were slightly unusual, it is within (CBP's) authority to inspect inbound and outbound travelers, vehicles, planes, cargo, etc.," she told
AVweb. She also said that only the Long Beach police officers assisting the operation actually drew weapons and CBP agents kept theirs holstered, something Perry vehemently disputes. "Every one
of them had their weapons out," Perry said.
Perry also said that while most of those who surrounded his airplane carried pistols, he saw at least one assault rifle carried by a CBP agent. Ivahnenko said the CBP agents involved are not
equipped with assault rifles and the tactical team that does carry them was not in Long Beach that day. Perry adamantly disagrees with Ivahnenko regarding the presence of assault rifles. While
Ivahnenko maintains CBP agents did not draw weapons, she said it was their idea that the Long Beach police officers have their guns out. "We are taking responsibility as the lead agency who requested
assistance from Long Beach," she said. "That was simply part of the security protocol for that part of the inspection." Perry said he and his passengers were ordered at gunpoint to first put their
hands on their heads and then get out of the airplane one by one. They were individually questioned and they and the contents of the plane were searched. Perry said he's considering filing a civil
rights action against the CBP and has been told by an attorney that the search may have violated the 4th Amendment of the Constitution that limits search and seizure powers of the government.
Ivahnenko said the controversy stirred by the Long Beach inspection may prompt an outreach campaign by the CBP to address concerns being expressed by the general aviation community about the new
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James Bass, who has been CEO of Piper Aircraft since 2005, will step down on June 26, the company
announced on Wednesday. "All things come to an end," Bass said in remarks to Piper employees. "I have successfully completed my mission at Piper and am leaving the company in very capable hands.
What I was brought in to do has been done, and it is now time for me to move on to other challenges." During his four years at the helm, Bass led the development of the PiperJet and initiated a new
business alliance with Honda. He also oversaw the introduction of the Meridian G1000 and the popular Piper Matrix, and negotiated $32 million in incentives from the state and county that kept the
company in Vero Beach, Fla. "My primary focus when I came to Piper in 2005 was to turn the company around, create a strong, highly competitive business, and make Piper a compelling choice for
potential buyers," Bass said. "Now with the sale of Piper to Imprimis, we have achieved that major milestone." Imprimis, a corporate finance and investment management firm, bought Piper on May 1.
The next CEO will be Kevin Gould, who is now Piper's VP of operations. Gould joined Piper in 2005, and has more than 20 years of experience in leadership roles in engineering, manufacturing and
management, including 12 years at Boeing. He overhauled Piper's manufacturing operations to meet production schedule commitments, while improving both cost and quality performance, the company said.
He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a J.D. from the University of Southern California School of Law and a B.A. from Washington State University. He holds a private pilot certificate. John
Becker, who is now VP of engineering, will be named president of the company.
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Air France has accelerated its effort to replace pitot tubes on its Airbus aircraft after members of one pilots union threatened to refuse to fly the unmodified airplanes, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The airline had said over the weekend it would replace the
sensors on all Airbus A330 and A340 airplanes over the next few weeks. But on Monday, Alter, a union representing about 12 percent of Air France pilots, posted a notice on its Web site urging its
members to "refuse any flight on an A330/A340 which has not had at least two pitot sensors modified," according to the Times. SNPL-ALPA, which represents the largest share of Air France pilots, made
no such suggestion, but union spokesman Eric Derivry told the Associated Press: "What we know
is that other planes that have experienced incorrect airspeed indications have had the same pitots. And planes with the new pitot tubes have never had such problems."
A U.S. Navy ship and the French nuclear attack submarine Emeraude are both en route to the crash site of Air France Flight 447 to aid the search for the cockpit voice and flight data recorders. The
Navy also flew two devices called Towed Pinger Locators to Brazil on Monday. The five-foot-long devices can detect the signals from emergency beacons from as deep as 20,000 feet. They will be towed
behind French tugboats. Crews so far have recovered 28 bodies from the crash site. They have been flown via Blackhawk helicopter to Fernando de Noronha, an island 400 miles off the coast of Brazil,
and later will be taken to the mainland in a C-130. Identification by fingerprints and dental records is expected to take some time. A total of 228 people died in the crash. On Monday, the airplane's
vertical stabilizer was recovered, the largest piece of the aircraft that has been found so far. The piece showed no evident signs of fire or explosion.
The NTSB this week is holding a three-day hearing on the January ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in New York's Hudson River. On Tuesday, the board heard Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger recall
his decision-making process on that day. After considering all the possible choices, "The only option remaining in the metropolitan area that was long enough, wide enough and smooth enough to land was
the Hudson River," he said. "I couldn't afford to be wrong." Passenger Billy Campbell, who was the last passenger off the airplane, told the NTSB that the jolt when the airplane hit the water was
violent, and water immediately began to rush into the cabin through a broken window. After everyone got out of the airplane, the life raft that some were in began to sink, because it was still
tethered to the airplane, but somebody on a nearby boat tossed them a knife to cut the rope. Campbell said there was not just one lucky break that day but many that allowed everyone to survive. "There
were 14 or 15 miracles that had to occur," he said.
Also, on Monday, scientists from the Smithsonian said the Canada geese that destroyed the Airbus A320's engines were migrants from Canada, not local geese. At least two females and one male goose
were ingested. The hearing will continue through Thursday, and will cover issues including pilot training regarding ditching, bird detection and mitigation efforts, certification standards regarding
ditching for transport-category airplanes, cabin safety emergency procedures, and certification standards for bird ingestion into transport-category airplane engines. The board also released the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder, but most of that conversation was heard previously on ATC tapes released
in February. The NTSB's comprehensive docket of documents and information about the ditching is available online.
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The Financial Post is reporting
Onex Corp., one of the parent companies of Hawker Beechcraft, is reportedly making a play for International Lease Finance Corp., the world's largest aircraft leasing company. ILFC is now owned by
American International Group (AIG), which is busy shedding assets to pay off the loan portion of its $182 billion government bailout. ILFC leases airliners to most of the world's airlines and has been
a reliable cash cow for AIG since it purchased the company from founder Steven Udvar-Hazy in 1990. Onex, which bought Raytheon's general aviation division in partnership with Goldman Sachs and renamed
it Hawker Beechcraft in 2008, is a Toronto-based investment company that frequently delves into aerospace enterprises. Onex President Gerry Schwartz is characteristically tight-lipped about the ILFC
Onex also owns Spirit Aerosystems, which was formerly known as Boeing's Wichita division, and is a key contractor on the Boeing 787. Schwartz also participated in a failed bid to buy Qantas
Airlines in 2006 and Air Canada in 1999. According to the Post, ILFC is doing well financially (revenues up 16 percent this year) but it's principal asset, the credit rating that it assumed as part of
AIG, has, of course, become more of a liability. Onex is reportedly looking for partners in the acquisition in a bid that will be less than the $7.8 billion book value of IFLC but will include
assumption of the company's $32 billion debt. Some of that debt comes due in October.
The FAA and American Airlines have wrapped themselves in the eco banner in selling the benefits of the NextGen airspace system. The
agency and airline are promoting the environmental benefits of the system with the announcement that the latest technology and techniques will be used for a "green" flight from Paris to Miami on
Thursday. But what it really comes down to is that the 767 will go GPS direct rather than following the airways and use gradual rather than stepped climbs and descents. In other words, it will operate
like general aviation has for more than a decade. The flight has earned a remarkable amount of attention from the mainstream media.
The Miami Herald trumpeted the flight as a "Step Forward For Aviation" and newspapers all over the
world picked up on the potential fuel savings. However, there were those who pointed out that there's nothing really new about this except that it's a regularly scheduled airliner doing it. "The event
scheduled for this week with the American Airlines aircraft is simply a publicity stunt," the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement. "The flight will be using Global
Positioning System (GPS) technology that we have been using for years." Miami was chosen as the destination because it's the first air traffic control facility in the U.S. to be outfitted with the
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Using new tests that have been developed by researchers in London, 35 percent of pilot applicants who now fail color-blindness
exams would pass, the UK's Civil Aviation Authority said recently. "The CAA intends to promote this research internationally with a view to gaining acceptance of the [new] test and its incorporation
in worldwide medical standards for pilots," said Dr. Sally Evans, chief medical officer at the CAA. The research, which was co-sponsored by the FAA, was conducted at City University London.
Under current guidelines, pilot applicants with minimal color deficiencies will often fail traditional tests, the CAA said. However, researchers found that some of these individuals may be able to
perform safety critical tasks just as well as those with normal color vision. About 8 percent of men and fewer than 1 percent of women have some level of color vision deficiency. [more] Current color
vision requirements are open to interpretation and often vary between countries. The new test developed in London is accurate and thorough, the CAA said. Click here for a copy of the full report, published by the UK's Civil Aviation
The fifth annual XLTA event, held recently in Amherst, Mass., attracted the pilots of 27 lighter-than-aircraft, most of them experimental homebuilts, for a weekend of flying and fellowship. "This
is not a public event, not a spectator event, but entirely participatory," organizer Dan Nachbar told AVweb this week. "There is no pressure on the pilots to fly -- but everyone wants to fly as
much as they can." This year's 70-plus attendees included pilots and crew from as far away as Wisconsin and Washington state, and five pilots from the UK. They brought with them a variety of creative
and colorful projects, from a spectacular tetrahedron-shaped balloon to a hot-air blimp (though the blimp is not a homebuilt but manufactured by Thunder & Colt). About half of the aircraft were
"cloudhopper-style," featuring just a harness to hold the pilot aloft, and half had baskets of various kinds to allow passengers. And most satisfying to Nachbar, five of this year's pilots were under
30. "We're generally a gray-haired crowd, not just the lighter-than-air folks, but experimental aircraft in general," Nachbar said. "So it's great to see the whippersnappers get involved."
For a gallery of photos from the event, taken by pilot and homebuilder Noah Forden, of Exeter, R.I., click here. A West Coast version of the event, XLTA Seattle, will be held July 25-26. For more information
about both events and a photo gallery, click here to go to the XLTA web site.
At least one person survived the crash of New Mexico state helicopter in a snowstorm on 12,000-foot Sante Fe Baldy Mountain. The fate of the other two onboard was not known at our
President Barack Obama has nominated NTSB member Deborah
Hersman to fill the role of NTSB chairman...
Peter Besenyei, inventor of the Red Bull Air Races, made an emergency landing in a farmer's field in Canada on Tuesday
afternoon after experiencing engine problems in his racing airplane. The airplane's wheels dug in and it flipped. Besenyei was checked out at a hospital but released with just minor bruising...
AeroExpo, one of the UK's largest GA events, is on this weekend just outside London...
The pilot of a Cirrus SR22 landed safely in North Carolina after pulling the emergency chute when his engine failed...
TSA Acting Administrator Gale Rossides said on Wednesday that next week the Federal Air Marshal Service
will open its second facility dedicated to the recurrent training of federal flight deck officers, in Dallas, Texas...
It's Thunderstorm Season Take ASF's New Thunderstorm Safety Quiz!
Airplanes and thunderstorms don't mix. These convective beasts can produce airframe-shattering turbulence, damaging hail, sudden and dramatic wind shear, blinding downpours, and strong, gusty winds
sometimes as much as 20 miles from the edge of a cell. Understanding thunderstorms is the key to avoidance.
Put your knowledge to
the test in ASF's new graphics-rich interactive safety quiz.
Last week, we asked AVweb readers to rate the health of their local airport and its perceived value in the community at large.
We were happy to see so many of you (17% of the total number who took our informal poll) say your airport is considered a vital community resource and report that local
officials are always looking for ways to improve it.
The most popular choice, according for 35% of responses, was that most people recognize its value and importance, though there are detractors.
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.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Security badges, rules about where you can go on the ramp, submitting passenger manifests, being held at gunpoint without any apparent cause it's getting tougher to enjoy the
freedom of flight these days. Is it giving you second thoughts about your flying activities?
AVweb When David Perry and his passengers got ready to leave for a brief vacation in Mexico, they were detained, searched and interrogated at gunpoint Long Beach, Calif., Now, the Customs and
Border Protection Agency won't say precisely why. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles wonders if this could be a glimpse of the future of GA
security and if there is really a good reason to keep the circumstances of this incident secret.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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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.
27 Years of the RVator
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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.
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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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.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
So the weather turns nice for a day or two and you all run off to fly your airplanes and prepare for all the June air shows, eh? No more time to submit photos to the old "Picture
of the Week" contest with AeroExpo London just around the corner! We understand and we won't cast stones. But if you feel compelled to share a few
photos out of pity, well we won't complain.
Pete Ouellette of Easthampton, Massachusetts snapped this week's winning shot "after an early morning rain" at Sun 'n Fun. And he wisely
held onto it for five years which means he can move a few precious dollars out of his summer hat budget and put 'em toward his next $100 hamburger.
Wise move, Pete we'll be getting an AVweb ball cap in the mail to you post-haste.
One theme that hasn't cropped up much lately (with a few notable exceptions) is "airplanes against the backdrop of interesting locales." Ken
Miller of Aquebogue, New York satisifies our craving today with his EZ breezy lighthouse photo.
Tom McLaughlin of Battle Creek, Michigan has been doing some floatplane training and has also apparently found a really solid way to mount
his camera on the wing, based on some great shots he submitted this week. We had to pick just one to share, and well, we thought you'd want to see the floats in action.
The boys from the AeroShell Team "closed out the Good Neighbor Day Air Show at Peachtree-Dekalb Airport in Altanta with their signature 'Smoke-Out'" and Donald Neuberg of LaGrange, Georgia gets a litle extra mileage from it too, using his shot of the performance to cap off this week's edition of "Picture of the
We hope to have some awesome bonus pics up in the slideshow on AVweb's home page by the time you read this but if they're not there yet,
don't panic. "POTW" headquarters is currently beseiged by thunderstorms, and if the power flickers out, we may save the update for Thursday morning.
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.
AVwebFlash is a weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the internet's aviation magazine and news service.
The AVwebFlash team is:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West Mariano Rosales
Click here to send a letter to the
editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)
Comments or questions about the news should be sent here.
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.