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Volume 9, Number 45aNovember 3, 2003

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FAA Administrator Marion Blakey opened AOPA Expo 2003 with good intentions but pilots paying attention to the fine print may have left a little confused. Blakey announced in her speech that the FAA Wednesday granted a new type certificate for Thielert's 135-hp diesel Centurion 1.7 -- two are worn by Diamond's 180-knots-on-10-gph TwinStar flying in Europe. The fine print says the engines, which incorporate auto parts, will have a $19,000, 1000-hour TBR (time before replacement) in the U.S. Beyond the fine print is the fact that the cost is similar to an overhaul of engines with similar torque and by the time aircraft turning the engine are available in the U.S. the TBR will likely be higher. Blakey also claimed "we're your voice at the table" when it comes to TFRs but announced that "the FAA doesn't call the shots on this at all," leaving the attending sample of some 1,200 pilots silently helpless. More...

The administrator addressed Meigs directly: "What happened to Chicago's Merrill C. Meigs Field on March 30 ... was a travesty. The national air system is national. No one should carve out a piece at will." Blakey then noted the reauthorization bill's "Meigs Provision," which, for those paying attention, does not claim airports for the FAA, but fines those who might close one without at least a requisite 30-day notice. Asked after her speech if privatization might extend beyond the proposed 69 towers and on to Flight Service, Blakey said, "this is an area where the FAA is actively looking at the private sector option." The administrator said of the current system, "It's costing $500 million per year. That's $27 for every single communication Flight Service has. We don't think that's efficient." More...

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As of this moment, some seven manufacturers promising a new generation of light jets sit on a collective order roster tallying well more than 2,000 aircraft. The light jets promise certification for single-pilot operations from nearly all GA airports. Some offer acquisition costs below that of a brand-new light twin, operating costs similar to light twins and performance well beyond that, but speakers at AOPA Expo 2003 made clear you won't find any light-twin pilots flying them, not without a lot of work, anyway. The problems include placating insurance brokers, finding time for recurrent training, and magically convincing airline pilot groups that squalls of "non-professionals" sharing airspace traditionally occupied by their own well-defined (and well-regulated) group is a good thing. More...

If you can't fly the jets at least you can have single-lever power. The major players from at least five engine manufacturers all seem to agree on one thing -- FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) is the way of the future and if you plan on flying far into the future it will likely be with FADEC on board. For many manufacturers it will solve the problem of fuel availability -- if 100LL ever does go away, FADEC will deal with whatever you put in the tanks, mixed grades and all, and figure it all out from inside your engine. Honda/Continental (diesel), Superior Air Parts (100LL), Bombardier (gasoline) and SMA (diesel) all intend to introduce engines in the 200-hp ballpark over the next few years (the final decision on the Honda engine should be made near the end of this year). More...

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As enormous political pressure bears down on a handful of senators holding the key to the future of the FAA reauthorization bill, forces opposing the bill's handling of air traffic control privatization welcomed a powerful ally. AOPA President Phil Boyer said in a statement Friday that while the 400,000-strong organization supports many of the provisions in the $60 billion bill, he's afraid that the current language (or lack of it) opens the door to a Canadian- and British-style user-pay system. "... Future administrators or administrations have all the authority they need to turn the keys over to a NavCanada or NATS-type company," Boyer said. His comments came after the House of Representatives, in a 211-207 vote , endorsed the revised reauthorization bill, which was stripped of all language pertaining to air traffic control privatization. The previous incarnation of the bill permitted privatization of up to 69 mostly VFR towers, while guaranteeing the balance of the system stayed in government hands. AOPA stood alone among the mainstream alphabet groups in opposing the bill. More...

Automated weather systems have greatly enhanced our weather data collection but a new system is proving to outdo humans and other forecast models as well. Last week, Harris Corporation unveiled a fuzzy logic-based system for automated, short-term ceiling and visibility forecasts. The announcement was part of the product demonstrations during the Air Traffic Control Association's (ATCA's) 48th Annual International Technical Program and Exhibits, held Oct. 26-30, in Washington, D.C. More...

Well, any midair collision you walk away from is a good one, right? The folks at Extra Aircraft are counting their lucky stars after the prototype of the company's entry to the high-performance touring/business market very nearly became a tragic NTSB statistic, taking the celebrated founder of the company, Walter Extra, with it. Extra, whose German company is synonymous with high-performance aerobatic aircraft, was at the controls of the EA-500 when a wingtip passed through the propeller arc of a Cessna 182 accompanying his and another Extra aircraft to the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) convention earlier this month in Orlando. Extra's U.S. President Ken Weaver said Extra "heard a noise" and advised the other aircraft he was turning back to St. Augustine, where the trio had left a few minutes earlier. More...

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EAA and AOPA have both launched campaigns to save a Florida airport from the condo crowd. A powerful lobby of local developers has forced a vote on the future of St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Airport (SPG) and as the plebiscite looms on Tuesday, both sides are firing salvos of advertising and direct mail at the people who will decide. "Never before have we seen a local developer agenda try to circumvent federal regulations by taking an airport closure proposal to voters," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. The anti-airport forces are proposing that half the waterfront airport be dedicated as a park (sound familiar?) while the rest faces an unspecified future. More...

While many of us are somewhat familiar with TCAS (Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System) and GPWS (Ground Proximity Warning System) some new high-tech in-cockpit technology promises to go a step beyond the current level of safety-conscious warnings. Honeywell Aerospace is studying whether to produce a product that would take over the aircraft's flight controls from a pilot who did not respond to alert and audio warnings from an impending in-flight collision. Honeywell spokesman Ron Crotty told The Wichita Eagle the device would return control authority to the pilot once the danger threat was eliminated. More...

A Canadian coroner's jury is recommending tougher standards for northern pilots (particularly inexperienced ones) and better emergency equipment in its assessment of a crash that resulted in four deaths in the Northwest Territories Dec. 31, 2001. The jurors found that 23-year-old pilot Dana Wentzell took off in bad weather despite warnings from more experienced pilots, according to the Canadian Press. The Cessna 172 crashed into a mountain near Fort Good Hope, NWT, about 500 miles northwest of the capital city of Yellowknife. Passenger Kole Crook, 27, died on impact but Wentzell and sisters Ashley, 18, and Lindsay Andrew, 11, survived the crash only to die of exposure before rescuers found them. More...

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Box-cutters were found on US Airways planes in Boston, Philly...
Bomb squad almost blew Ghostbuster's Halloween surprise...
British Airways Concordes go to New York and Seattle museums...
Peanut packs stuffed with cocaine on Colombian airliner...
John Travolta will emcee Kitty Hawk celebration...
ADs issued for Aerostar and Hartzell, NPRM for two Pacific Aerospace models. More...

Congratulations and an AVweb hat go out to Jerry Lund, this week's AVscoop winner. Submit news tips via email to Rules and information are at


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The Pilot's Lounge #67: A Museum Rescues Its Aviation Collection
Celebrations of he 100th Anniversary of flight have some interesting side effects -- many aviation museums are sprucing up their old collections and making things more attractive, interactive, and interesting. AVweb's Rick Durden went back to visit the Henry Ford Museum and found a new gem of a place. More...


Reader mail this week about poor GA piston sales, ATC privatization and more.


PILOT GETAWAYS MAGAZINE GIVES PLACES TO FLY AND THINGS TO DO NATIONWIDE These magazines are truly "keepers" for those times you are looking to fly to an interesting, exotic place, or get off the beaten path. Pilot Getaways makes a super gift for only $16.75 a year at

Overheard October 19, near Las Vegas:

United XXX: LA Center, say again the frequency for United XXX. No answer on 133.4.
Center: United XXX, 133.4 is correct. Try again. If there's still no answer, come back up this frequency ... and I'll send somebody over there to smack the dirt out of their ears. More...

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