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Volume 15, Number 33a
August 17, 2009
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Top News: Aviation Safety—Hudson Crash, F-16 Spinback to top 

The NTSB says it's sticking to its version of the events leading to the Aug. 8 midair collision of a Piper Saratoga and a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River despite allegations by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association that a press release issued last Friday has a significant error. "We stand by the information we put out on Friday," NTSB spokesman Terry Williams told AVweb on Sunday, adding that he had no further comment. In a podcast interview with AVweb on Sunday, NATCA spokesman Ray Adams said the union has asked the NTSB to correct a statement in the press release that says the Teterboro controller working the Piper had the helicopter on his radar screen before the collision but failed to warn the Piper pilot of the potential conflict. The passage in question says: "At that time there were several aircraft detected by radar in the area immediately ahead of the airplane, including the accident helicopter, all of which were potential traffic conflicts for the airplane. The Teterboro tower controller, who was engaged in a phone call at the time, did not advise the pilot of the potential traffic conflicts." Adams said he's reviewed the tapes and the helicopter doesn't appear until seven seconds after the Teterboro controller handed the Piper off to Newark. More...

This summer, while visiting with a Canadian Forces experimental test pilot stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, something interesting happened. Actually, it happened the week before, but the whole event became more interesting while we were there. While flying a test F-16 to evaluate a system software upgrade, a test pilot lost control of and appeared to over-stress the test aircraft. The first part was expected. The second part wasn't. But when the engineers got a hold of the test data things became a bit more interesting. AVweb obtained clearance to run footage of the event and our test pilot tour guide, Major Desmond "Duece" Brophy explained what happened. Have a look for yourself. More...

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The Ever-Changing Aviation Workplaceback to top 

Since 2006, when the FAA imposed work rules and pay cuts on controllers who were seeking a new labor agreement, the relationship between the groups has been marked by a failure to see common ground -- ground they may have just found. Under the terms of a labor agreement reached Thursday, some 15,000 controllers would see an increase in pay and benefits, according to The Associated Press. However, neither the FAA nor the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has yet stepped forward to reveal the tentative agreement's finer details. A joint statement released by the two states that under the tentative agreement, pay standards will be "more equitable," the FAA will be able to "more effectively" redeploy controllers through the use of incentive pay, and controllers will win greater work schedule flexibility and a new process for the review of grievances. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt claimed the situation "marks a new day" in labor relations and "a new spirit of cooperation" between the two groups. He also indicated he hoped to move on to other issues. NATCA now has 45 days to ratify the agreement. More...

Hawker Beechcraft has cut 2,800 workers (25 percent of its workforce) since October 2008, but amid a declining backlog and depressed demand company officials expect more cost-cutting and more significant but unspecified job cuts, according to the Wichita Eagle. In the second quarter, the company saw year-over-year delivery numbers drop from 129 to 78. While orders taken from April to June amount to $450 million, cancelled orders during the same period represent $366 million in lost revenue. The route taken in 2009 by NetJets may help explain the market environment that's led Hawker Beechcraft to its latest cost-cutting and cash-conservation plans. NetJets in 2009 cancelled orders for 12 Hawker Beechcraft aircraft and deferred all scheduled deliveries until the end of 2010. "The market conditions remain very challenging," CEO Bill Boisture told analysts. He did not say how many employees he would be laying off or exactly when. But the cuts are coming. More...

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Russian Knights Midair Collisionback to top 

The commander of the elite Russian Knights air demonstration team died Sunday after his SU27 collided with another during a rehearsal for the MAKS-2009 air show in Moscow. Col. Igor Tkachenko was among three crewmen who ejected from two aircraft after the collision. The other two were in "satisfactory" condition according to early reports. The jets hit a row of houses and up to five people were hurt, one woman seriously. More...

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More Background on Hudson Midair Investigationback to top 

The FAA has suspended a Teterboro air traffic controller and a supervisor on duty at the time a Piper Saratoga and a sightseeing helicopter collided over the Hudson River. That announcement came as chilling video from a tourist on a boat on the river was released by NBC News showing the Piper approach the helicopter from the right quarter, bank slightly right and have its right wing severed by the rotor of the helicopter. Two men and a 16-year-old boy died on the Saratoga, and the pilot and five Italian tourists, including a 16-year-old boy, died on the helicopter as both dropped into the river. According to CNN, the FAA says the controller working the Piper was on the telephone conducting an "inappropriate conversation" when the collision occurred. The agency says the shift supervisor was not in the building. The National Air Traffic Controllers Union issued a statement urging there not be "a rush to judgment about the behavior of any controller" before the results of a thorough investigation. FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told CNN that while the rules were broken, that didn't necessarily have anything to do with the accident. More...

The NTSB reported Friday that the Teterboro controller who last spoke with the pilot of the Piper Saratoga that last Saturday collided with a Eurocopter over the Hudson River, killing all nine aboard both aircraft, told the pilot to contact Newark on 127.85 about 40 seconds before the aircraft reached the river and did not warn the pilot of traffic. "At that time," says the report, "there were several aircraft detected by radar in the area immediately ahead of the airplane, including the accident helicopter, all of which were potential traffic conflicts for the airplane." The NTSB adds that, "the Teterboro tower controller, who was engaged in a phone call at the time, did not advise the pilot of the potential traffic conflicts." The Newark tower controller called Teterboro asking that the controller instruct the pilot to turn "to resolve the potential conflicts," but at the time of the call the pilot was confirming with Teterboro the frequency change. The Teterboro controller did then make multiple attempts to contact the Piper, but the pilot did not respond. The collision occurred shortly thereafter, but not before setting off aural and visual "conflict alert" indications at both Teterboro and Newark air traffic control towers. In interviews with the NTSB both controllers stated they did not recall hearing or seeing the alerts. More...

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News Briefsback to top 

A pilot who on November 15 clipped a house while crashing his Cessna 182 (containing a bag of more than 100 prescription pills), left the scene before rescuers arrived, and was later found to have had cocaine, marijuana, opiates and a prescription sedative in his system has been sentenced to 30 days work-release jail time. Sean M. Oskvarek, 45, also earned two years probation at his sentencing last week and he did lose his pilot certificate as part of the federal investigation of the crash. "He admitted having three or four drinks before he got into the plane," prosecutor Audriana Anderson told Chicago's Daily Herald, but Oskvarek's blood alcohol content was only .010 when they caught up with him. The injured Oskvarek had left his 182 inverted in a residential yard east of Brookeridge Air Park in DuPage County, Illinois, and was arrested after police tracked him down and took him to the hospital. More...

Some pilots swear their airplanes talk to them but now a Troy, N.Y., company has developed a system that allows pilots to talk to their airplanes. VoiceFlight Systems says it has received FAA certification for its VFS101 pilot speech recognition and that it's the first such system to get a supplementary type certificate (STC) from the FAA. Inventor Scott Merritt says the patented system allows pilots to accurately enter flight plans, edit them, make corrections and make changes using voice commands. "The VFS101 uses aviation specific recognition technology to address the challenging conditions found in the aircraft cockpit. It is this technology that allows the VFS101 to meet the rigorous performance requirements of FAA certification," Merritt said in a press release. More...

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


Letter of the Week: Hudson Corridor

Once again, know-nothing politicians are reacting and not thinking. The two river VFR exclusions in New York have been an absolute necessity for helicopter and floatplane ops here for many years, and, as one who has spent thousands of hours in the corridor, flying floatplanes into 23rd Street and Wall Street (when it was open to us), I have strong feelings about any further regulation here. I will say this, though: Except for a fatal mid-air between an NYPD helo and a commercial floatplane in 1982, these accidents in the river have involved "out of town" amateur pilots.

These VFR exclusions are tricky, and this is recognized by the professional pilots in the NYC area who use them. I recall that at least once every year, both helicopter and floatplane pilots attended a briefing at FAA facilities to discuss new or existing procedures involving flying this airspace and the river exclusions. These meetings were invaluable for all of us as we began another busy season flying "down the river."

The only "regulation" that needs to happen here is for [someone to devise] a way to formally educate out-of-town pilots on the nature of conditions and procedures prior to allowing them to penetrate the East and Hudson River Exclusions. We should leave it to the pilot community and FAA to figure out how to really put this into effect, but it would go a long way to avoiding more of these tragedies.

Gayle Michener

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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 What have you heard? More...

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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association says the NTSB has made a big mistake in its early assessment of the midair collision between a Piper Saratoga and a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River on August 8. The NTSB declined detailed comment to AVweb, but Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles spoke with NATCA rep Ray Adams, who says that contrary to the NTSB's press statement, the Teterboro controller working the Piper could not have warned the pilot of a potential conflict with the helicopter. More...

Plenty of voices are calling immediate action of some sort in the wake of last week's midair collision over the Hudson River. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a welcome voice on reason amid the clamor. More...

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New on AVwebback to top 

BrainteasersGo fast, go high. But before you reach beyond the surly bonds, make sure you know the territory — or at least the terminology — by acing this quiz.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

At Edwards Air Force Base, they still test F-16 fighters, because each software upgrade and each new weapons package introduces new parameters. Experimental test pilots need to identify the aircraft's performance limits, and they need to know how it will perform before their brothers- and sisters-in-arms take upgraded Vipers into combat. This is one of those tests, and Air Force pilot Desmond Brophy walks us through it step-by-step. More...

Obtained by NBC news, this video shot by an Italian tourist shows the moment of impact between a Piper Saratoga and a Eurocopter over the Hudson River. The accident killed all nine aboard the two aircraft. More...

A British charity rowing team raced to the scene of a ditching by an Irish pilot in the Irish Sea Wednesday and were in the process of throwing him a line when a rescue helicopter arrived and winched him to safety. One of the rowers had a video camera with him. More...

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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


Our latest "FBO of the Week" was suggested by Luc Premont and the gang at Dream Aircraft, who discovered Jamestown Aviation at KJHW on the way to AirVenture. Luc writes:

On our way to Oshkosh from CZBM (Bromont, Québec, Canada), we decided to go south of the Great Lakes because of bad weather. We stopped at Jamestown Airport for fuel and an update on the weather for our next leg. Leonard J. Nalbone, the general manager, was busy like a bee with a few small jets and crew to take care of — but even as busy as he was, this guy took the time to breif us on the weather that was coming, which was pretty bad, gave us the opportunity to put our two Tundras in a hangar, and even helped us push them there. After all that, he gave us a car so we could head downtown for a meal ... . What a great way to be treated when you get down to the USA from Canada! This guy is a giving us a good reason to fly in the US.

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!


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The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 

Overheard in IFR 
Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

While in the pattern at Islip, New York, during a quiet time, we'd performed about 20 touch-and-goes, each time receiving a bland "cleared for touch-and-go" from the tower. Eventually, a Southwest Boeing 737 called the tower inbound:

"Tower, Southwest Fourteen Thirty-One."

"Southwest Fourteen Thirty-One, cleared for touch-and-go."

Southwest (in a heavy Texas drawl) :
"We'll just make this one a full stop if you don't mind."

Mike Sehlmeyer
via e-mail


Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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.