AVwebFlash - Volume 15, Number 33b

August 20, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Safety & Regulation back to top 

Report: TSA Failed To Check FAA Lists For Terrorist Suspects

At least six individuals listed by the FBI as possible terrorists also were listed in the FAA database as pilot certificate holders as of this June, according to The New York Times. After the Times questioned the TSA about the situation, the FAA suspended all six certificates. The Times had received the list of names from a small software company that said it found the six by comparing public records, an effort the TSA apparently never made. "The T.S.A. appears not to have taken notice of the terrorists even when two of them turned up on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most Wanted List," says the Times. A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the TSA, told the Times her department would "conduct a comprehensive review to see why the system failed to identify these people" and would consider whether the department should be looking at more federal lists. This week, however, the Times wrote that the software company found one more pilot in the FAA database who is wanted by the FBI, which has offered a $50,000 reward for the accused "domestic terrorist."

The fugitive pilot is also the owner of a 1977 Grumman-American Cheetah, which has been listed for sale online, according to the Times. Last week, several members of the Senate Commerce Committee and its aviation subcommittee sent a letter to the TSA and the FAA asking if they plan to address "apparent weaknesses in the existing vetting system that allowed individuals representing potential national security threats to retain their airman licenses." David Schiffer, president of Safe Banking Systems, the company that found the matches, told the Times it was "highly unlikely" that the TSA has started checking the FBI list against the FAA list, or it would have found the domestic terrorist that turned up in the company's latest cross-check.

Vacationing President's TFR Rankles Vineyard Pilots

Click for larger version

The last time a sitting president vacationed on Martha's Vineyard was during the pre-9/11 Clinton years, so when plans were laid for next week's visit by the Obama family, the extent of the flight restrictions was a bit shocking to local pilots. "This is the most restrictive TFR we've seen," said James Coyne, the president of the National Air Transportation Association, who has a home on the Vineyard. "I can't think of any example of such severe restrictions. It's far, far more draconian than under Clinton," he told the Vineyard Gazette. The TFR extends for 30 nm for eight days, affecting seven local airports, which are in the midst of the busy tourist season. GA pilots who want to land at the main Vineyard airport (KMVY), which is within a 10-nm inner ring, must apply for a waiver 72 hours in advance and stop at one of several specified "gateway" airports for inspection first. "It's really unfortunate ... we'd hoped for some relief for the Katama tours," said Coyne, referring to the popular grass field on the island, which offers biplane and glider rides. Since Katama is inside the 10-nm ring and there is no TSA screening facility there, the field will effectively be shut down.

Outside the 10-nm inner ring of the TFR, GA airplanes can take off and land if they follow certain procedures, but flight training, crop dusting, banner towing, and several other operations are restricted. AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy said the final TFR was not as bad as it might have been. "AOPA did make the case for a less restrictive TFR and in fact was successful in advocating for gateway access to the inner ring -- the first time since the 30-nm presidential TFRs were instituted that GA has had access to the inner 10-nm ring," Dancy told AVweb on Wednesday. Dancy added that now that the Notam is published, "it becomes incumbent upon pilots flying in that area to make sure they comply." He noted that when a presidential TFR was implemented in Arizona earlier this week, there were eight violations. "So it will be imperative that pilots in New England check Notams immediately before departure, and that if their route of flight will take them anywhere near Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard, that they know and follow the procedures for operating within the TFR," Dancy said.

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Deadline Approaches for Sport Trainers back to top 

FAA Expected To Exempt Ultralight Trainers From Regs

A pending deadline that would make it difficult to find aircraft that could legally be used for ultralight training will probably be extended or discarded by the FAA, EAA said this week. When the sport pilot rules were developed several years ago, the FAA allowed the use of two-seat ultralight E-LSA trainers only until Jan. 31, 2010. The idea was that by then, enough ultralight-like two-seat Special LSAs would be operating to take on the job of training ultralight pilots. However, only three manufacturers have produced S-LSAs that are suitable for the ultralight training market, and the down economy and the difficulty of obtaining financing have slowed sales. The lack of suitable trainers would create a safety issue, says EAA, "because people wanting to fly ultralights or ultralight-like aircraft will not be able to take flight training in ultralight-like aircraft." The FAA is now evaluating the situation, EAA said, but one way or another, it seems likely that the current trainers now in use will be allowed to be used after the deadline.

No matter which remedy the FAA chooses, either extending the deadline or effectively eliminating it, owners will have to obtain a new airworthiness certificate and operating limitations, EAA said.

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News Briefs back to top 

Eclipse Sale To Close Today

Barring any last-minute changes, the assets of Eclipse Aviation will be sold on Thursday, Aug. 20, to Eclipse Aerospace, a new company founded by two Eclipse E500 owners. Eclipse Aerospace put in a bid of $40 million with a federal bankruptcy court earlier this month, and since no other qualified bidders had surfaced by a court deadline, Eclipse Aerospace seems likely to close the deal. Mike Press and Mason Holland, owners of the company, have said they will keep Eclipse in Albuquerque, provide service and upgrades for the current fleet, and eventually restart production. Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez told the New Mexico Business Weekly he expects the new company to start hiring workers soon, but it will create only a few hundred jobs, not the 2,000 or so that Eclipse Aviation provided at its peak. "Eclipse has always been more important to us than the jobs it provides," Chavez said. "It represents a symbol of progress for the city. That it's now coming back is a huge victory for Albuquerque."

Holland, chairman and co-founder of Benefitfocus, a software firm based in South Carolina, told the Post and Courier this week that his group's bid faces some objections, but none is expected to derail the deal. "We're going to stand the company back up and continue to service the existing fleet and reintroduce the production of the aircraft ... as the market allows," he said. Holland had placed a deposit on an E500 jet, but never took delivery. He said he expects it will be about a year before the company restarts production. He added that when the economy begins to recover, demand for the $2-million E500 will revive. "There's no price point lower than this jet," he said. The original company erred by putting more emphasis on growth plans than on the bottom line, according to Holland. "We're going to be focused on profitability first and growth second. You don't go broke when you're focused on that," he told the Post and Courier. About 260 E500 jets have been delivered to owners, but few are flying due to issues with parts and supplies. In June, EASA suspended its European certification of the E500.

China Shows Support For GA Growth

Jinggong General Aviation Co., a Beijing-based company that is the sole dealer for Cirrus Aircraft in China, will move to the small Huanghua airport about 150 miles outside the city and upgrade it for use as a flying club to help promote the growth of private aviation, China Daily reported this week. Although GA has been slow to grow in China -- only about a half-dozen Cirrus airplanes per year are sold there -- the government has shown a willingness to gradually open airspace below 2,000 feet for private airplanes, according to China Daily. The Huanghua airport was built about six years ago as a base for crop-dusting flights, and has been in use only about two months per year.

The China Daily story also implied that Cirrus is interested in moving its manufacturing facilities to China, but Ian Bentley, Cirrus vice president and managing director of international sales, told AVweb that is incorrect. "We have absolutely no plans to move manufacturing to China," Bentley said. "We don't see any benefit in manufacturing in China to ship planes to America." However, he said, if in the future the Chinese market matures, "we'll absolutely look at manufacturing in China for the Chinese market." But that is not likely to happen soon. "Obviously, at half a dozen airplanes a year, we won't be building airplanes in China," Bentley said. Cessna and Diamond also have been working to sell GA airplanes in the Chinese market.

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News Briefs back to top 

New Award Will Honor Transportation Safety Contributions

A new annual award will honor individuals who have made significant contributions to aviation and transportation safety, the NTSB Bar Association announced on Wednesday. The association is an organization of lawyers and other aviation professionals whose practice involves the NTSB, FAA, and DOT. The award is named in memory of Joseph T. Nall, who served as a member of the NTSB from 1986 through 1989. He was also a certificated pilot and ground instructor.

During his tenure with the NTSB, he was an enthusiastic supporter of the NTSB Bar Association and regularly participated in its meetings. Nall died in an aircraft accident while on NTSB business in Venezuela in 1989. The first Joseph T. Nall Award will be presented at the NTSB Bar Association's Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Nov. 12. The name of the first recipient will be announced soon, the group said. The NTSB Bar Association was established in 1984 and is a nonprofit corporation based in Washington, D.C.

Pilot Who Bailed Out Sentenced To Over Four Years In Prison

Marcus Schrenker, 38, of McCordsville, Indiana, who bailed out of his airplane in January and parachuted to safety in an alleged attempt to fake his death, was sentenced to 51 months in prison on Wednesday, CNN reported. Schrenker also must pay more than $34,000 to the U.S. Coast Guard, which mounted a search and rescue effort, and another $871,000 to the lien holder on his Piper PA46-500TP Malibu Meridian. That cost may be offset by insurance, however, the prosecutors said. Schrenker pleaded guilty to intentionally crashing an airplane and sending false distress calls related to his use of the aircraft in June. The charges could have sent him to jail for 20 years for crashing the airplane and six years for prompting the Coast Guard search.

Schrenker's January flight took him from Indiana to Birmingham, Ala., which is roughly where he parachuted out of the aircraft. He 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. His lawyer, Thomas Keith, told the court Schrenker intended 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. Schrenker has also been charged in Indiana with felony fraud counts in connection with three companies that he owns.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

FAA Proposes Safety Management Systems

The FAA has issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) that would require a broad spectrum of aviation businesses, from repair stations to airlines, to implement formal "safety management systems" that document the safety procedures throughout the operation. The International Civil Aviation Organization defines an SMS as "systematic approach to managing safety, including the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures." However, the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) calls it an "overarching, regulatory 'blanket' to your business" that it says even the FAA admits is a major administrative and operational burden. The AEA is urging members to comment on the NPRM but not before they attend a seminar on its potential impact. The AEA is afraid members will inadvertently signal support for the proposal if they don't get the straight goods from the meetings.

At the heart of the SMS is a formalized decision-making process that business owners would "use to plan, organize, direct and control their normal, day-to-day business processes." However, the FAA is quick to point out that in no way does an SMS substitute for or override all the paper trails it already requires to ensure compliance with its own regulations. "Therefore, the FAA is proposing a significant additional burden without any financial, administration or administrative benefit to AEA members," the AEA said in a news release.

FAA Panel To Review Hudson Operations

The FAA has convened a New York Airspace Working Group that will review current operating procedures in the VFR corridor over the Hudson and East Rivers and recommend safety improvements to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt by the end of next week. FAA air traffic and safety experts will make up the panel. They will solicit comments from helicopter and aircraft operators and review air traffic and pilot procedures. They will also review and analyze a variety of proposals to change the operating procedures in the VFR corridors. "We strongly encourage pilots to use standard practices in that area now, but it may make sense to require them," Babbitt said. "We've heard a lot of other good ideas about improving safety there and I'm looking for a quick, but thorough review by the safety experts." AOPA and EAA have sent a joint letter to Babbitt urging a restrained response to the Aug. 8 midair collision that prompted the review.

"Acting precipitously, without all the facts, may have unintended consequences while failing to improve safety or prevent future problems," reads the letter, which is signed by both EAA President Tom Poberezny and AOPA President Craig Fuller. EAA and AOPA especially took issue with depictions of the corridor as the "Wild West," noting that hundreds of aircraft safely use the Hudson corridor every day, and the recent midair was the first such accident in nearly 50 years. Airspace such as the Hudson River Class B exclusion zone has recommended procedures, a designated CTAF, right-of-way rules, and defined vertical and lateral boundaries, AOPA said. A Notam published on Aug. 11 advises pilots who fly in the corridor to turn on their lights, use special radio frequencies, announce when they enter the airspace and fly at 140 knots or less. Fuller also said he was pleased with the FAA's "measured approach" to making any changes. "AOPA looks forward to taking part in the discussion," he said.

Jetpod Entrepreneur Killed In Test Flight

Click for larger images

Michael Dacre, 53, was killed on Sunday in Malaysia as he was attempting to fly the prototype of the Jetpod, a jet-powered STOL aircraft. Dacre, who had designed the airplane, was the managing director of Avcen, the London-based company that was developing it. The Star, of Malaysia, reported that Dacre taxied down the runway three times before taking off, but then at about 600 feet the aircraft suddenly shot vertically into the sky, veered left, crashed to the ground and exploded. The company's promotional materials describe the Jetpod as an eight-place, very quiet twin-engine jet that would be capable of speeds up to 350 mph and could land or take off in about 400 feet. Dacre envisioned several possible roles for the airplane, including medevac, personal transport, and air taxi. The jet could also be used by the military for reconnaissance and would be able to operate from aircraft carriers without the need for a catapult or arrestor gear, according to a company video posted online. The company planned to start production by 2011.

The Avcen Web site has been taken down and replaced by a statement expressing sadness at the loss of Dacre and a desire to continue the development of the aircraft. "Our day of success and accomplishment also turned out to be a day of tragedy," reads the statement. "Mike had a dedicated passion to the project and as a world-class aviator was extremely well respected in the world of aviation. ... His team here at Avcen will work together to live his dream making the Jetpod a successful member in the family of aviation."

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."

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These Readers Know Exactly Where They Stand back to top 

Announcing the Winners of Our EAA AirVenture AV8OR Handheld GPS Drawing

The results are in. From the thousands of AVweb readers (new and old) who entered our drawing during the lead-up to EAA AirVenture, we've picked three at random to receive brand-new AV8OR handheld GPS units from Bendix/King by Honeywell. The winners are:

  • Brian Mitchell
    Pittsfield, ME
  • Ted Lebens
    Eagen, MN
  • Warren Jagodnik
    Burke, VA

Many thanks to everyone who took a moment to enter the drawing, and a warm welcome to anyone who registered with AVweb for the first time to participate.

If you'd like one of these handy devices for yourself, you'll have one more chance to take one home during our AOPA Expo drawing later in the fall — or you read more about it at the Bendix/King by Honeywell Web site, as well as find a dealer and purchase one for yourself.

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

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.

Night Flying Will Never Be the Same!
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New on AVweb back to top 

Question of the Week: TFRs — Safety, Security, and Minor Inconvenience

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Following the midair collision of a helicopter and a Piper Saratoga, calls have gone out for tighter regulation in New York City's Hudson River VFR corridor. Last Thursday, we asked AVweb readers for their opinion.

Your answers were neck-and-neck, with 45% of those who responded saying it's worth a look because of the density and nature of its traffic, but the corridor should definitely remain VFR and another 41% of you saying it's fine the way it is; midairs can happen anywhere.

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.)


The lives of people in the popular resort areas of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket will be disrupted by the security measures imposed for President Barack Obama's vacation there next week. Is this really necessary?

Is it time for a little more flexibility on TFRs?
(click to answer)

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.

AVweb Insider Blog: NTSB's Snit Fit

The NTSB's work is so serious, so respected, and so vital that we don't expect them to throw a fit when a group like the air traffic controllers' association issues a press release that's a little off the government message. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues why we should expect better of the safety agency.

Read more.

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

Exclusive Video: Loss of Control in an F-16 Fighter, Test Pilot on Yaw Departure

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

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.

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.

Related Content:
Don't miss our video tour of the Viper cockpit with Major Brophy.

Video Marketplace Spotlight

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Jamestown Aviation (KJHW, Jamestown, New York)

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

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!

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

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.


We're trying to restrain ourselves this week, since we've spent the past few installments of "POTW" crowing about how many great photos we have and how much we love AVweb readers for taking to share them.


Oh, who are we kidding? This week's batch is just as jaw-dropping as last week's! Don't believe us? Fasten your seatbelts and come along for the ride. (And when we're done, don't forget to hit up our home page and see all the bonus pics in this week's slideshow.)

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Used with permission of Joe Wiley

De Havilland Beaver in Kodiak, Alaska

"Two floatplane landscapes in a row?" — we asked ourselves that same question, but after you've seen this shot from Joe Wiley of Gonzales, Louisiana at full-size, we think you'll agree the decision was out of our hands.

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Used with permission of Mike Lawie

Air Mobility?

"It looked like a sea of humanity was walking out of the C-5 Galaxy and onto AeroShell Square at Oshkosh," write Mike Lawie of Muskegon, Michigan. "I tried to get everyone to smile."

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copyright © Paul T. Gernhardt
Used with permission

Pesky Pirates of the Sky

Paul T. Gernhardt of Ashburn, Virginia captures the swashbuckling spirit of the "Pirated Skies" Wing Walker act at EAA AirVenture.

(Good thing, too. If it weren't for pictures, at lot of people would miss the best parts of this cover-your-eyes routine.)

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Used with permission of Randy Minnick

Working the Fire

Taking a break at a rest stop along the freeway is usually a pretty routine affair — but when Randy Minnick of Springville, California stopped outside the town of Weed, he "happened to catch this big S-56E." Randy snapped some great photos of this firefighting helo, which he identifies as being based out of the Evergreen, Oregon offices of Evergreen Aviation.

(We'll try to sneak another of Randy's photos into the home page slideshow if we have room, but it's a tight fit this week ... .)

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copyright © Gary Dikkers
Used with permission

A Different View of the World's Busiest Control Tower

Can't say exactly why, but we're in love with this photo of the tower at OSH — or rather, its reflection.

Gary Dikkers of Madison, Wisconsin sees us out this week.

Once again, we had and embarrassment of riches to choose from this week. Don't miss all the bonus pics currently in rotation in the slideshow on AVweb's home page!

Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

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.

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.

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