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Passenger-rights advocates are hailing the announcement made last week by FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt that "when we say customer, we're talking about the flying public," but they're not
entirely satisfied. Business Travel Coalition and FlyersRights.org applauded the decision, but stated their shared belief that the FAA "should completely remove the term 'customer' from its lexicon"
lest it remain "a trigger for confused behavior." The groups called the airline-as-customer notion "misguided" and a source of dysfunction in the industry. It is the groups' view that "the FAA needs
to be a strong regulator with a mission to protect the flying public, period." Toward that end, the groups hope to see more progress this coming Tuesday when a passengers' rights stakeholders hearing
will take place in Washington. The groups hope that will meeting will be followed with the attachment of proposals to the FAA reauthorization bill that will effectively set a passengers' bill of
rights. But at this time, the language of the proposals may not be specific enough to be enforceable.
The House version of a passenger bill of rights would require airlines to allow passengers to get off a plane after it has experienced "excessive delays" not otherwise specified. Senators Barbara
Boxer, D-Calif., and Olympia Snow, R-Maine, have sponsored a bill that sets the limit at three hours of delay. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation in November released a report recommending
that airlines establish their own time limits.
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An article published Thursday by USA Today notes that Congress has directed billions to
general aviation airports, "which typically are tucked on country roads and industrial byways," usually operate flights on the order of "just a few each hour" and which "the lawmakers also regularly
use in their travels," ... "sometimes in planes with lobbyists." It goes on to state that "lawmakers have expanded annual funding by 10 times since 1982," rewriting federal law to re-route funds to
the airports, of which "nearly 90% operate at less than one-third of their capacity." And all that is funded by taxes paid "mostly by the nation's airline passengers," who are flying out of larger
airports working much closer to their full capacity that are in need of expensive upgrades to their infrastructure. AOPA shot of a response calling the article "a slanted, one-sided front-page story,"
slanted to favor airlines by brewing "negative sentiment" that "perpetuate public misconceptions about GA." NBAA also chimed
in, calling the article "biased" and "distorted" and followed up with a letter to the editor that called the airports "vital" and "lifelines" for towns with little or no airline service. Of
course, there were more comments ... from EAA (which pointed out the contributions of aviation fuel taxes), from GAMA (which noted the economic engines driven by airport
services and traffic) and NATA (which pointed out the $150 billion contributed annually to the U.S. economy by the
general aviation industry). AOPA even added a little fact-checking ... .
According to AOPA, airport improvement project funding accounted in 2007, which AOPA called a "fairly typical year," for $3.34 billion distributed to 2,610 airports. That, says AOPA, was shuffled
out to 341 primary airports that received $2.1 billion for an average of $6.17 million per airport; 48 commercial airports that saw on average $1.94 million each; 139 GA reliever airports that
received about $1.54 million each; and 982 general aviation airports that worked with about $628,000 each. According to AOPA, the total split between 389 airline airports and 1,121 GA airports worked
out to $5,5 million per airline airport versus about $742,000 per GA airport.
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To be your most productive, and your most efficient, you must keep flying. Because in so doing, you will emerge from these times even stronger than before. And you will replace the uncertainty that
surrounds many, with the confidence and courage to light the way for all.
Steve Hinton Jr. put the highly modified P-51 Strega through its paces at the 2008 Pylon Racing Seminar at Reno Stead Airport in November 2008. The 22-year-old pilot went
on to win the Gold Unlimited race at the National Championship Air Races, which wrapped up Sunday.
Steve Hinton Jr., 22, became the youngest pilot to win the top prize at the National Championship Air Races in Reno Sunday. Hinton flew the highly-modified P-51 Strega to victory in the Breitling
Gold Unlimited Race at an average speed of 491.822 mph in a time of 8:10.357, almost 13 seconds ahead of John Penney in Rare Bear, an F8F Bearcat. Third place went to Sherman Smoot in the Yak 11 Czech
Mate. It was only Hinton's second appearance in the Unlimited class but he's been around the sport since he attended his first Reno races when he was two weeks old. His father Steve Sr. is a two-time
Unlimited champion and Strega is no stranger to the winner's circle, having won the event seven time. Full results are available here.
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NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman last week spoke before the Subcommittee on Aviation in the U.S. House of Representatives and stated that the pilot of the Piper involved in the fatal
midair with a Eurocopter over the Hudson this August may have transferred to the wrong frequency. Hersman told the Subcommittee that the pilot acknowledged the Teterboro controller's last instruction
to pick up Newark, but that "the pilot read back to the controller an incorrect frequency." There is no indication, according to Hersman, "that the incorrect read-back was heard or corrected by any
air traffic controller." Matched with the NTSB animation released the same day, the read-back occurred while the lone working Teterboro controller was also engaged with what the NTSB identifies as a
"personal phone call" and other audible radio communications from a controller at Newark. However, from the NTSB's animation alone, it is not at all clear that the read-back was incorrect or even
complete. (See minute 2:25 of the video, below.) The animation does, however, include transcription of some communications that are not audible in the presentation.
Hersman's comments are available online, and we expect more as the investigation continues. Multiple major news
outlets, from The New York Times to Fox News, have published Hersman's comments about the inaccurate read-back. Some, including The New York Times and Newsday, have reported the alleged incorrect frequency not audible in the animation and not mentioned in Hersman's published comments.
Honeywell's SmartRunway and SmartLanding products are upgrades to its Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, they talk, they're recently FAA-approved and they're designed to directly address
major factors identified by the FAA that lead to runway incursions. SmartLanding is designed to identify things like which runway the pilot is approaching and whether the aircraft's airspeed is too
high, or if the aircraft is flying too high or going to incur a long landing, and then conveys that information to the pilots through audio and visual signals. SmartRunway conveys advisories about a
runway's length and its location, calling out and identifying each runway whenever the aircraft is approaching one either on the ground or in the air. For landing aircraft, it will call out distance
remaining before and after landing. The products together address three key FAA-identified factors that lead to runway incursions: "communication, airport familiarization and cockpit procedures for
maintaining orientation," according to Honeywell. The company says SmartRunway will be compatible with ADS-B functionality as that technology becomes available and should be available on certain new
Boeing aircraft as they come off the line.
Both SmartRunway and SmartLanding work through Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems. SmartRunway is currently offered by Boeing as an option on certain 747 and 777 models with plans to include
the 737 by 2010.Honeywell says its systems offer worldwide coverage through inclusion of 1,900 airports and 6,500 runways it has collected in the programs' database. The company will add airports and
runways upon customer request to ensure the product fits the need. SmartRunway is actually an upgrade to Honeywell's Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS) that it's been selling since 2003 and
with which more than 1600 aircraft are outfitted.
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Airbus, presently the world's largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft, sees airlines picking up some 25,000 aircraft over the next 20 years, to the tune of $3.1 trillion. That's up 3 percent
from the company's February 2008 forecast. The company expects Asia to firm up demand for single-aisle and other aircraft, accounting for as much as 31 percent of new aircraft. That, as the airline
industry comes out of an industry-wide loss year that could amount to as much as $11 billion for airlines if forecasts by the International Air Transport Association hold true. Airbus nonetheless
hopes to carry about 300 orders for 2009 and predicts passenger growth in 2010, up 4.6 percent from a 2-percent decline in 2009 and continuing with 4.7 percent increases on average. That means, in the
Airbus forecast, that traffic would double within 15 years. Carriers are considered likely to demand more fuel-efficient aircraft, replacing older models while increasing access to cities worldwide.
Boeing's latest predictions don't altogether carry the same tune, and offer a less optimistic look at the near term but carry on to a similar end.
Boeing sees demand for some 29,000 aircraft worth $3.2 trillion over the next two decades, which is larger than Airbus' forecast of 25,000 at $3.1 trillion. However, Boeing does not expect the near
term to look quite as rosy. Boeing's forecast predicts traffic to fall off as much as 8 percent this year with an uptick not taking hold until 2011.
The first production line assembled-in-China Cessna 162 Skycatcher to be flown took flight Thursday at Cessna's Shenyang production facility in northeast China, performing "a number of handling
quality tests during the flight," Cessna said in a news release. The "first" here means that the particular aircraft was "fabricated and assembled on production tooling." Cessna in July earned ASTM
compliance (international standards for Light Sport aircraft) for the two-place, piston powered single-engine high wing, and Cessna chairman, president and CEO, Jack Pelton, is excited to see the
Skycatcher "take its place in the industry as the light sport aircraft of choice." When Cessna first announced the Skycatcher would be assembled in China, it fielded some boisterously opposed opinions
from some percentage of the flying public, but Cessna has stayed the course. The Shenyang Aircraft Company (SAC) is the fabricator of the aircraft's fuselage, which it then integrates with other
components including a Continental 0-200D 100-hp engine and Garmin G300 split screen primary flight and multi-function displays. Aircraft will be shipped from China to the U.S. where they will be
reassembled, according to Cessna.
The 162 should cruise near 118 knots for a 470 nautical mile range. It will be built for VFR day/night operations. The company, which operates a network of flight training centers, says it has
more than 1000 orders for the aircraft.
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Oct. 16 will see six inducted into the EAA Hall of Fame: Lance Neibauer, the late Stephen Pitcairn, George Baker, Roy Pinner, Paul Sanderson, and, perhaps the most recognized, Bob Hoover. EAA says
the group spans the range of aviation within the EAA membership, each achieving a level of notoriety "within their particular realm of flight." Neibauer made real the sleek Lancair kit-built designs,
one of which one hung in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and others that evolved from the Lancair IV to become the Columbia and later Cessna Corvalis. Stephen Pitcairn passed away March 29,
2008, at the age of 83. He built on the legacy of his father Harold Pitcairn, who founded Pitcairn Aircraft, and served as a director of the EAA Aviation Foundation. Baker is noted for his
contribution to EAA warbirds, Pinner to ultralights, and Sanderson to flight instruction. Hoover is recognized for his accomplishments in the military, as a test pilot and legendary airshow performer.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony at the EAA Hall of Fame induction dinner, at which Bob Hoover will speak. You'll need a ticket.
EAA's banquet honoring its Hall of Fame inductees will take place Oct. 16 at the EAA Aviation Center. Tickets are on sale for $50 each or for tables of 8 at $400. Check EAA's online Hall of Fame page for details.
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USA Today writer Thomas Frank apparently thinks airport funding should go to the 139 "well-known" airports that handle commercial traffic. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider
blog, Russ Niles points out the danger in that thinking: "Let's hope he doesn't have a heart attack somewhere else."
With its new Austro engines, the new DA42 NG is a strong performer and a bit more economical than the previous version of this aircraft. AVweb editorial director Paul
Bertorelli took a spin in one last month, and here's his report.
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As much as we love stories where a pilot discovers a great new FBO because of an unplanned (and often maintenance-related detour), we've featured quite a few of those as "FBOs of the Week" lately.
This week, turn our attention instead to an FBO that was nominated by one of its regular patrons. AVweb reader Peter Lehnen laid out the benfits of Monadnock Aviation at Dillant-Hopkins Airport (EEN) in Keene, New Hampshire on their first anniversary:
Beth and Rick Bendel, who started their business one year ago today, have single-handedly revitalized the Keene airport. I just returned from one of their bi-weekly free cookouts, where many people
fly in and many local pilots get together. They sponsor safety seminars, lectures, comunity outreach, and comfortable and functional facilities for transient pilots. The improvements they have
brought are too numerous to list, but the city of Keene and the pilots in the area are far better off than at any time in the previous ten years that I have used this airport.
I'm a controller at Terre Haute, Indiana, and I was working data while my female supervisor got her currency on arrival radar. She was wondering about the on-course heading of an overflight. The
conversation went something like this:
"Seven Six One Zulu Bravo, say your heading to 22G."
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
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