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The NTSB met on Wednesday to discuss the results of its investigation into the crash of a Cessna Citation 550 in June 2007 and laid the blame squarely in the lap of the pilots. The jet had just
taken off from Milwaukee, carrying a medical team with a human organ for transplant. Shortly after takeoff, the captain had trouble controlling the airplane, and the crew was trying to return to the
airport when the jet crashed into Lake Michigan, killing all six on board. The safety board investigators said they didn't have enough information to say for sure what happened -- it might have been a
runaway trim or the inadvertent engagement of the autopilot, rather than the yaw damper, at takeoff -- but in either case, the crew's failure to respond adequately was the cause of the accident.
"Regardless of the initiating event, if the pilots had simply maintained a reduced airspeed while they responded to the situation, the aerodynamic forces on the airplane would not have increased
significantly; at reduced airspeeds, the pilots should have been able to maintain control of the airplane long enough to either successfully troubleshoot and resolve the problem or return safely to
the airport," the board said in its synopsis. The NTSB released an animation of the crash sequence.
The board said the first officer had poor flying skills and was inadequately trained, and the captain, who was also the chief pilot for the charter operator, contributed to the development of an
"inadequate safety culture" at the company. The board also noted a number of contributing issues that it would like to see addressed, such as better oversight by the FAA of safety protocols at charter
companies, better design for circuit breaker panels, and upset recovery training for flight crews. As an interim measure (pending an available aileron trim system retrofit), Cessna should notify
Citation pilots and operators of the potential hazards related to the sensitivity and responsiveness of the airplane's aileron trim system, the board said. The board posted online the docket of documents and the PowerPoint presentations used in Wednesday's meeting.
A lawyer for the first officer's widow told the Detroit Free
Press that it wasn't reasonable to think the pilots could have recovered from the situation at such a low altitude. Marlin Air, the charter operator, did not immediately respond to the Free
Press's request for comment. The University of Michigan, which had chartered the aircraft, said in a statement: "We hope that this review will help prevent such incidents around the country so that no
other medical institution, and no other families, will have to face such a loss."
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For manufacturers of GA aircraft that have been eagerly awaiting the opening-up of Asian markets, this weekend's China International General Aviation Convention, in the northwestern city of Xi'an,
is a good sign. More than 80,000 visitors from around the world are expected, according to China
Daily. The convention will feature several airshows, a static exhibit with more than 100 aircraft, talks and forums. To promote the event, a new series of postage stamps has been released that
features images of GA aircraft built by Cirrus, Diamond, Cessna, and Flight Design. "When Chinese citizens can buy Mercedes automobiles in large numbers, they demonstrate they can also afford light
aircraft," said Matthias Betsch, CEO of Flight Design. "We are very honored to be included with these famous brands [in the stamp series] as China opens its doors to general aviation." In other news
from China, Yuneec Intl. announced recently that it flew its electric-powered trike for one hour 16 minutes near
its facility in Shanghai, and hopes to stretch that to an hour and half by the end of this month.
The trike was powered by the Yuneec Power Drive 10Kw motor system. Also, an airshow in Beijing this week unveiled the design for a twin-engine single-aisle airliner that will seat up to 190 people. The airliner will be developed by the Chinese government. China's domestic airlines are
expected to need up to 4,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years.
Your Engine Just Died and You've Got Three Choices Water? Road? Trees? Get this 20-minute program with tactics on handling emergency landings. Listen as safety expert Bob Martens examines factors such as off-field landing
choices, stretching the glide, landing pattern, wind and flap management, landing long or short, and more.
Click here to listen
online or download.
In the first post of a new blog on his Web site, filmmaker Michael Moore this week addressed
the issue of pilot pay, and The New York Times also explored the topic in a lengthy Page One story on Wednesday. "I have a whole section in my new movie [Capitalism: A Love Story] about how pilots are treated," Moore writes. "In the movie I interview a pilot
for a major airline who made $17,000 last year. For four months he was eligible [for] -- and received -- food stamps. Another pilot in the film has a second job as a dog walker." The Times story
focuses on Bryan Lawlor, a pilot for ExpressJet who was one of 130 captains downgraded to first officer in a cost-cutting measure. He took a 50-percent pay cut, to $34,000 per year. Click here for the full NYT story, or here for an audio slideshow. Moore's movie features interviews with
several pilots and excerpts from Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's testimony before Congress in
February, when he talked about the pay cuts and pension reductions taken by pilots. Click here for an audio
podcast of Sullenberger's testimony.
In his blog post, Moore says that on a recent airline flight, the pilots -- who were unaware that pilot pay was addressed in the new film -- asked to talk to him after they landed. One showed him a
letter from the airline noting that he had already taken three sick days in the past year and warning him not to take any more. The other pilot showed Moore a pay stub for $405 for a week's work. "My
life was completely and totally in his hands for the past hour and he's paid less than the kid who delivers my pizza," Moore writes. At least one of the pilot interviews in the film was apparently
shot at Wittman Field in Oshkosh, though it wasn't identified -- the airport's distinctive new control tower was visible in the background. The young pilot who was interviewed said she owes $100,000
in student loans but tried not to think about it. An older pilot said the airlines take advantage of the fact that pilots love to fly and thus will put up with poor treatment. The film also mentions
the Colgan Air accident and the poor pay of the pilots involved. During the final credits, a note
appears asking viewers to donate to "Pennies for Pilots," but we were unable to find any further information about any such effort.
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Aerion remains determined to be first to market with a supersonic business jet, company chairman Robert Bass said in a news release this
week. Armed with an order book worth $4 billion, Bass has been shopping around for an OEM partner to take on the project. "I said at EBACE earlier this year that I am committed to the Aerion program
as long as we see progress in our discussions with OEMs," said Bass. "We are seeing progress. In fact, we are quite encouraged by our discussions. There is no question that the economic impact on the
industry has slowed their decision-making progress, but it has not lessened interest in this program." He said the Aerion design is practical, because no regulatory changes are required for the jet to
operate efficiently, and the supersonic natural laminar flow wing design is well proven. "There are no barriers to success," said Aerion Senior Advisor John Holding. "Technical risks are low, and the
development of the jet is well within the capability of several manufacturers."
The Aerion team will be at the NBAA Convention in Orlando, which runs Tuesday to Thursday next week, with a mockup of its design. "Even when some of the major industry players are hunkering down,
we have come to tell the industry that they will soon be able to embrace a faster future," said Vice Chairman Brian Barents. "That is why we are here at NBAA -- to spread this message." Watch for
AVweb's team coverage of NBAA events all next week.
Got a Minute? Watch Would You Fly This Airplane?, an important Pilot Safety Announcement from the Air Safety Foundation
Watch this short humorous PSA to find out what would happen if airlines handled fuel management the way some GA pilots do.
Las Vegas visitors now can fly in a tethered helium balloon to enjoy a view 500 feet above the Strip. The new business, called Cloud Nine,
launched last Thursday, and claims to operate the largest balloon of its kind in the world. The 70-foot-tall balloon can carry up to 30 passengers at a time, at about $25 each for a 10-minute flight.
The Las Vegas Sun, in its report on the new venture, noted that the company has
some tough competition -- an observation deck at the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas is 460 feet high and charges just $10, and the Stratosphere hotel has a deck at 1,149 feet for just a $16
admission. A blimp operator that offered tours around the city about 10 years ago was unable to make a go of it, according to the Sun. But Cloud Nine CEO Kevin Michaels seems confident. "We've got 40
million people that come here on an annual basis. I thought it was a great opportunity for the visitors and the 2 million locals, alike," he told the Sun.
Michaels spent two years working to get the project off the ground, and hopes to expand to other tourist destinations such as Hawaii, California, Mexico, and Europe.
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Wichita, Kan., has been the hub of the U.S. aircraft manufacturing industry since the 1920s, when the companies that would become Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna, and Boeing all had their roots there.
But the current downturn has hit the city hard, with about a quarter of the aviation workforce laid off. According to a story in Monday's Wall Street Journal, the city may never recover those jobs. Many manufacturers had started work
on new production facilities in China, Mexico, and elsewhere to increase capacity during the boom times, and when orders do start to pick up again, the work might go there, rather than back to Kansas.
Company officials told the WSJ it's unlikely that they would expand their Wichita operations beyond today's level. Any future growth would probably happen abroad. "We're going out and trying to
recruit new businesses here to diversify what we have," Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer told the WSJ. But some of those new businesses might still be in the aviation sector, he added.
Meanwhile, Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, has been asking President Barack Obama to visit Wichita to see the job losses that have resulted from negative characterizations of business jet use
and the recession. Buffenbarger, who was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, was in the news last year for angry remarks he made about then-Senator Obama and his
supporters, in which he characterized Mr. Obama as two-faced and cowardly.
Stratos Aircraft, of Bend, Ore., announced this week it has received the first deposit for a Stratos 714 Very Light Personal Jet. The
company also said it will display its full-scale cabin mock-up at next week's NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention in Orlando, Fla., for the first time at that event. "The need for speed, performance and
value drew me to Stratos," said Verson Pandian, the first buyer to take advantage of the Stratos fully refundable deposit program. Pandian is the owner of Cascade Air Charter, in Bend, and plans to
use the jet in his business. "Knowing that I am not at risk with my deposit made me feel like the Stratos team really understands my perspective," he said. The Stratos single-engine jet will fly 1,500
nm at 400 knots carrying four people plus baggage, the company says. "We are excited to bring the 714 mock-up to this year's NBAA convention, especially since there is a focus on the light business
aircraft owner," said Stratos Chairman Michael Lemaire. "We look forward to a great show."
The company's fully refundable Assurance Deposit Program aims to reassure skittish buyers that their deposits will be
held in escrow, and can be refunded at any time. Lemaire says the 714 will fill a market need that right now is going unmet. "There are many piston and turboprop owners that have the need for more
speed and range but also want a more efficient jet option with low acquisition and operating costs in these challenging economic conditions," says Lemaire. "The 714 matches this need and is the only
aircraft that will give these pilots business-jet performance in a very light jet." The full-scale mock-up was first
displayed at Oshkosh AirVenture this summer. The company said it will release further details and updates about the program at next week's NBAA event.
October 20-22 is the annual NBAA Convention, and we'll bring you news and announcements every day from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. To follow our daily coverage, take a
moment to make sure you're signed up for our no-cost AVwebBiz e-newsletter.
Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."
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Do you use software for flight planning? Aviation Consumer magazine wants to know what computer tool you prefer, be
it a package you paid for, downloaded for free, or just use on the web. Even if you just glance at the METARs on ADDS and figure you'll stop for gas somewhere on the way, we'd appreciate you taking a
couple of minutes to answer at least some of these questions. Hey, you might even discover flight-planning options in the survey questions you never knew existed. Click here to participate.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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Last week, we asked what AVweb readers thought of the possibility that teen-aged alleged serial airplane thief Colton Harris Moore learned to fly from the internet.
The biggest segment of you (43% of those who answered) said, Sure; the information is readily available, detailed, and comprehensive but another 28% of thought it was
possible but this kid must have at least been in a cockpit before.
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.)
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Between rising costs, onerous security, and more regulation, sometimes it seems like the fun is going out of aviation. Do you agree?
Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to
NOTE: 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.
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There has never been a better time to own the fastest single-engine piston plane available. Mooney Airplane Company is offering generous incentives, low interest rates, the best
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Pilots who signed up for sightseeing flights over San Francisco in the new Zeppelin NT kept asking the crew if they could take a turn in the front seat. Tired of having to say
no, the company created a special day-long program just for pilots. AVweb's Mary Grady tried it out during a session in Long Beach last month, and here is her report.
At Oshkosh this year, Garmin announced the new GT-series traffic awareness and collision avoidance products. These devices are priced according to capability and aircraft mission. In
this video, we take a quick look at all three systems.
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to AirFlyte, Inc. at Westfield-Barnes Airport (KBAF) in Westfield, Massachusetts.
AVweb reader James Labrie recommended brought AirFlyte to our attention with this tale of stellar service:
AirFlyte's lineman professionally guided us to parking and literally provided us with a red carpet treatment, a genuine smile, and a giant umbrella to shield us from the light rain. We were quite
impressed with the beautiful FBO in the brand new terminal building. ... Our children immediately entertained themselves with the Wii and giant flat screen TV. ... I was most impressed with the
courteous and prompt service I received, in a spotless new facility. The rental car agency and excellent dining experience all in one building added to my satisfaction. I would definitely recommend
AirFlyte to all pilots. They treat a C-172 pilot as importantly as an executive jet pilot. I absolutely will return to AirFlyte.
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.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
You thought last week's batch of "POTW" submissions were impressive? Buckle up, because we've got a stash this week that may be even better! (Seriously, we had to resort to
the old quarter toss method of tie-breaking more than once this week.)
Keith White of Los Angeles, California had a bang-up afternoon on the 1945 Victory Ship S.S. Victory Lane last month. "Eight T-6
Texans, some with Luftwaffe and some with AA markings, put on a fine show ... off Catalina Island," writes Keith. Of course, the recreation of an air attack was a good bit safer than the real thing,
but Keith reports that "the good guys won" and he came home with a stunning photo that beat out stiff competition to become AVweb's "Picture of the Week."
We're seriously beginning to think New Zealand may be the coolest place on Earth for pilots to live or at least for people with cameras. Terry
Johnson of Manly (Auckland) asked himself the question, What to do on an flyable day? and came up with this answer: "Wait 'til dark and go nuts with a torch [light] and an open
shutter." A long exposure (seven whopping minutes!) created the glow seen here in a dark hangar.
Seeing a pattern here? AVweb readers make the best use of their free time! Carl Hansen of Nepean, Ontario (Canada) spent some of his at the
Vintage Wings of Canada Open House at Gatineu (Québec) and shared some fantastic pics with us. (We'll be slipping one more into the home page slideshow this week,
so be sure to look there for more of Carl's shots.)
Oh, and Carl included this link for those of us who want to know more about that rockin'
"POTW" submissions can often be read like a weather briefing from the recent past. We had quite a few cool storm pics this week and finally resorted to the coin-toss test to
make the final decision on which one landed here. Greg Swiderski of Dublin, Ohio came out on top man, do we love that reflection! but you'll find one
our two more in this week's bonus pics, as well.
Karla Scott of New Carlisle, Indiana "took this at Owlshead, Maine's Transportation Museum. ... What a treat to see so many fantastic birds in
one place," she writes. "[I] saw things there I've not seen at Oshkosh!"
You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. Trust us: You don't want to miss this week's batch!
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.
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
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West Mariano Rosales
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