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Volume 15, Number 37a
September 14, 2009
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Predicting the Weather: Always a Tricky Businessback to top 

A proposal to consolidate aviation weather service units is under consideration and a September report by the Government Accountability Office says that the National Weather Service (NWS) and the FAA have yet to properly address key challenges even though the interagency agreement will expire at the end of the month. The proposed restructuring considers changing the way aviation weather services are provided at en route centers, but the GAO states "it is not yet clear whether and how these changes will be implemented." In 2005, the FAA requested that the NWS consolidate sites and reduce personnel costs while providing 24/7 service. NWS' subsequent proposals were rejected by the FAA "because the costs were too high," according to the GAO, and the latest proposal would move weather service from roughly 21 locations, to two. When the GAO found that the latest proposal lacked performance measures starting with a baseline of the current system's performance, the FAA generated five measures and NWS proposed eight more. The GAO has found that the agencies have failed to establish a performance baseline for nine of those measures. The GAO maintains that without baseline measures, the NWS and the FAA may find themselves in a poor position to measure the success or failure of any changes. As always, the GAO has recommendations. More...

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Safety I: Reacting in the Momentback to top 

Hurricane Jimena slammed into mid-Baja roughly two weeks ago, damaging buildings, destroying infrastructure and disrupting water, power and telephone services, while blocking streets and impairing relief efforts. Now the Baja Bush Pilots are seeking resources to help fill the void. The group, originally formed by Arnold Senterfitt, who in the mid-1960s mapped airports in the region, has now organized in recent years to transport supplies when disaster strikes the region. The group is currently seeking donations of clothing, shelter, medication, foods and water purification. The work is critical and time-sensitive. But the greatest needs are constantly shifting. The group is doing its best to keep their web site updated as they arrange to fly supplies into Mulege airstrip, which was in the path of the storm and last week offered about 2,200 feet of usable runway. More...

CNN provoked a 22-minute ground halt at Reagan National Airport Friday morning when it broadcast a story that shots had been fired amid elevated Coast Guard activity on the Potomac River shortly after President Obama's motorcade had passed through the area on historically sensitive 9/11, 2009. The news agency later reported that it had confirmed the events were all part of a Coast Guard training exercise. It was later discovered that the words "bang, bang, bang, bang" and "we have expended 10 rounds" had been heard by CNN over police scanners that the news agency monitors. Following that, the news organization observed and eventually broadcast video footage of U.S. Coast Guard vessels behaving in what might be described as excited fashion on the Potomac. The final complication came when CNN sought comment from the Coast Guard and was told by a spokeswoman that she was unaware of activity in that area. Then, going with what they heard and saw, CNN went live on cable television to announce that the Coast Guard had reported shots fired and aired their footage of the elevated Coast Guard boat activity on the Potomac. That report then influenced authorities to take action at Reagan National, where a ground halt was put into effect from 10:08 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. CNN says it received a Coast Guard e-mail at 11:09 a.m. confirming that the event was a training exercise. In the aftermath, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs took aim at CNN. CNN stood its ground. More...

Is There Anything More Important than Protecting Your Family?
Be certain you have the right life insurance coverage. Get the information you need to find the right policy for your family's protection at the Pilot Insurance Center. Call PIC at (800) 380-8376 or visit
Safety II: Day-to-Day Vigilanceback to top 

Erroll Southers has been selected by the Obama administration to be the fifth administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. The TSA was formed "immediately following the tragedies of Sept. 11," 2001, and now employs roughly 50,000 people. It is charged with (among other things) overseeing security at some 450 U.S. airports. Erroll, who is a former FBI agent, currently serves as an assistant chief for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department's Office of Homeland Security and Intelligence. The National Air Transportation Association was one of the first aviation groups to respond to the administration's selection, saying through its president, James K. Coyne, that "Southers' vast experience with homeland security and terrorism will serve him well as the next administrator of the TSA." NATA "looks forward to working with Mr. Southers on critical security issues facing the general aviation industry and the airline services community." AOPA president Craig Fuller also said he "looks forward to a continuing dialog with the administrator once he takes office to ensure the security process is transparent, and to make sure the TSA recognizes the nation's pilot population as an asset in its ongoing efforts to enhance security." More...

It's likely not a top concern for pilots, but it ranks among them, and so Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, is slated to receive the first bird radar system deployed in a war zone, DeTect Inc., maker of the MERLIN Bird Radar system, announced last week. By the end of 2009, the system is set to be deployed and operational, providing real-time 3-D hazardous bird activity monitoring through 360 degrees of airspace out to 8 miles. What the system detects, it then provides as automated warnings to controllers and pilots. DeTect originally developed its system for the Air Force and NASA and now has more than 50 mobile units operating in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa and New Zealand, both for aviation safety and bird control applications. The U.S. Air Force actually purchased its first MERLIN radar system in 2003 and now has six systems installed at its facilities in the U.S. Aside from its "first" status, the Bagram system is something a little bit special. More...

The New Meridian G1000 — Commanding
The new Meridian G1000 with Garmin G1000 avionics and GFC 700 autopilot suite, business jet luxury and turbine simplicity for 30% less than any comparable six-place turbine-powered aircraft. With a panel as commanding as the airplane, and a million dollars less than its closest competitor, "Pilot in Command" means precisely that.

Click here for more information on the new Piper Meridian G1000.
News Briefsback to top 

As if to prove that technology tends to come full circle, the Air Force is now using piloted aircraft as simulators to train pilots of UAVs. "We're using a manned aircraft to simulate an unmanned aircraft," said CAP-U.S. Air Force Commander Col. Bill Ward. The Air Force has installed a "Predator Ball" under the wing of a CAP Cessna 182, giving the four-place single the ability to pretend it's a Predator or Reaper UAV ready to mix it up with insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the actual UAVs are busy doing that and that's left a "critical training gap" for Army and Marine personnel learning how to use the drones. "The Surrogate Predator (as the CAP 182 is known) is the solution," said Maj. Matt Martin, chief of the Predator/Reaper Ops Branch of Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va. More...

The Commemorative Air Force will on the weekend of Oct. 10 host at its headquarters in Midland, Texas, the CAF AIRSHO that will take visitors "back in time to the mid-1940s." More than 100 aircraft, ranging from early vintage designs to examples of today's American military, will be complemented by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby impersonators and Andrews Sisters-style music performed live along with the United States Army Band from Fort Bliss. The event is meant to provoke "the glamour and excitement of the WWII USO shows" while giving attendees open access to the fighter and bomber ramps and the opportunity to get up close and personal with many of the 156 aircraft that CAF members have restored and maintained as keepsakes of American history. According to the CAF, "It will evoke a spirit of patriotism reminiscent of the 1940s, a period remembered and celebrated as 'When America was at its finest.'" More...

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

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...

JA Air Center, Your Source for the New Garmin GPSMap 696
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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

Being first to break a story isn't always the best way to be first in service to your audience. AVweb's Glenn Pew reflects on the pressures that led a major and respected news outlet like CNN to misreport a training exercise as potential terrorist activity on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. More...

Whether the takeoff of a cold-war era Victor bomber was an accident or not, it seems to AVweb's Paul Bertorelli that such a thing ought to be avoidable. And blaming it on the co-pilot is ... tacky. Read Paul's comments (and add your own) at the AVweb Insider blog. More...

Jeppesen Pilot Training
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

At an air show, an old Handley Page Victor bomber was supposed to do a taxiby photo op. Instead, it took off. The explanation? The co-pilot accidentally firewalled the throttles. Really? You be the judge. More...

With only two left flying, the Avro Lancaster is among the rarest of the rare of World War II aircraft. AVweb recently toured one when it appeared at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. More...

Video Marketplace Spotlight

Classic Cockpits DVDs
Rick Searle Productions takes you behind the stick of some of the world's most incredible classic airplanes — the Douglas DC-3, the PBY Catalina, the de Havilland Vampire, and the Avro Lancaster — in a series of Classic Cockpits DVDs.

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

Online Aircraft-Specific Ground Schools
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, through its Office of Professional Education, now offers a series of aircraft-specific ground schools: Boeing 737 Classic — NG, 747, 757, 767 and 777; as well as Airbus 319, 320, 330 and 340; and the Bombardier CRJ 200. For a complete list, visit Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's web site at
Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the FBO at Henderson Executive Airport (KHND) in Henderson, Nevada.

AVweb reader Michael Gibbs explains how some things that happen in Vegas don't stay in Vegas — they end up on AVweb as beaming accolades:

As I pulled into a transient parking space at Henderson airport, a van pulled up before I had the engine shut down. Before I got out of the airplane, it was tied down, and the driver [of the van] was asking if I needed ground transportation. "A cab to the strip would be nice," I mentioned, noticing that my luggage was already in the van. At the terminal, I was pleased to learn that they'd fill my O2 bottle for less than half what I'm charged at home. I came out of the restroom to find the cab waiting, and I was on my way. When I returned to the airport, the plane was topped off, the O2 was filled, and they gave me a lift back to the plane. A warm welcome, a friendly, helpful staff, beautiful facilities — heck, even Las Vegas approach rolled out the red carpet. What's not to like?

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!


Aviation History, by Anne Millbrooke
A beautifully done full-color hardcover book that gives new and experienced pilots a unique perspective on international aviation history. Each of the ten chapters is packed with information containing historic photographs and color graphics. Aviation History explores the question "What is aviation?" by following the world of flying from its birth in Annonay, France to today's accomplishments in space.


For more information, call (800) 780-4115.
Check out this and other books at
The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 

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

"Cessna Nine Four Four Two November, descend to 2,500 feet, proceed along the east side of the river, then left to 280 at Central Park."

Me (sincerely, since I'd never been there before):
"Approach, how will I know when I'm at Central Park?"

"Just watch for the muggers."

Larry O'Donnell
Paoli, Pennsylvania

Ralph Martin
Catherine, Alabama


Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Isn't it time to initiate a digital marketing program with AVweb that will deliver traffic and orders directly to your web site? Discover several new and highly successful marketing options to use in lieu of static print or banner campaigns. Click now for details.
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.