AVwebFlash -

November 5, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Daily Coverage of AOPA Summit Begins back to top 

AOPA Summit Opens In Tampa

AOPA launches its new version of the former AOPA Expo in Tampa this week, and despite the stubbornly down economy, organizers expect a full exhibit hall and attendance close to what it was for the last Tampa event, four years ago. "The AOPA Aviation Summit will still have the wide variety of exhibitors and aircraft displays, educational opportunities and social events that have become hallmarks of our annual convention and trade show," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. "But we are dramatically increasing the participation of government and industry leaders, making it easier to really delve into the issues that face us and give members and others the opportunity to get first-hand answers to the questions that concern them." The summit aims to bring together leaders from the industry, advocacy groups, and government in support of GA's future. AVweb will be on site all week to bring all the news, video, and podcasts straight to you from Tampa.

New this year, AOPA will be broadcasting some of its events live on the Internet, and in some discussions viewers can log on and ask questions in real time. Airportfest at nearby Peter O. Knight Airport will showcase a wider spectrum of aircraft than in the past, with hot-air balloons and LSAs as well as the usual piston airplanes. Visitors can stop in at AOPA's Learn To Fly tent, where they can take a turn in a simulator or sign up for a $70 demo flight. Excellent VFR Florida weather is expected to persist for the duration, for those who choose to fly in.

Related Content:
Click here for a podcast interview with AOPA President Craig Fuller about the Summit.

Production Skycatcher Debuts at AOPA Summit; AVweb Flies It

With more than 1,000 orders for its Skycatcher LSA booked, Cessna is moving apace to bring the airplane into series production, and it showed up at AOPA Summit in Tampa with a conforming airplane. Cessna's Kirby Ortega told AVweb the airplane in display was built in Wichita, although the wings — which we inspected carefully — were manufactured in China. Detailing looks good throughout the aircraft, and gone is the purple paint of the proof of concept version. Ortega showed us changes in the wing — it's a little thicker to improve lift — and changes to the tail to increase spin resistance. Oretega said Cessna plans to deliver at least one Skycatcher before year's end and to ramp up production to 300 to 400 a year going forward.

Related Content:
Click here for a full video report on the Skycatcher from AOPA Summit 2009.

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Small Airports, Big Money back to top 

USA Today: Small Airports Get Big Money

Small general aviation airports around the country have raked in $1.1 billion in federal "earmarks" since 2001, USA Today reported this week. The earmarks are funds requested by lawmakers to support specific projects. USA Today says corporate jets, private pilots, and cargo operators like UPS and FedEx have benefited at the expense of taxpayers and the traveling public. NBAA, EAA, and AOPA were quick to respond. "Unfortunately, the vital contributions provided by community airports, and the millions of people who rely on them, were completely missing from your coverage," NBAA President Ed Bolen wrote to the newspaper. EAA's Earl Lawrence, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, also weighed in: "The continuing inference that the only airports that are worthy of support are those with commercial service is similar to saying the only roads worth maintaining are those used by passenger buses," he wrote. AOPA President Craig Fuller responded: "USA Today has done its readers a disservice by failing to present all the facts ... regarding aviation funding." Like most big companies, USA Today's parent company Gannett Co. Inc. has a corporate flight department, which includes a Falcon 2000 and fractional shares in other aircraft. AVweb has contacted Gannett to inquire about its use of general aviation airports and facilities and is expecting a response later today.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it's because this week's USA Today report expands on a story published in September that touched on similar themes, and prompted a similar response from the GA advocacy groups. Click here for our report on that story, and click here for a post at the AVweb Insider blog by editor Russ Niles, which led to a lively discussion among our readers about the issues raised.

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Barrington Irving, the Youngest Pilot to Solo Around the World, Flies with a Lightspeed Zulu
After being isolated in the cockpit for 10-12 hours at a time, he continues to be impressed with the level of quality and reliability. Come to booth 831 at the AOPA Summit and see for yourself why Barrington feels this way about his Zulu. Or visit Lightspeed's web site and see the dozens of other stories from pilots who say Zulu has changed their minds.
Wheels (and Wings) of Justice back to top 

Wayward Pilot Sentenced To Two Years For Airplane Theft

When Adam Leon, 31, took off from an Ontario flight school in a stolen Cessna 172 last April and flew across the border into the U.S., it was an act of desperation -- he was suicidal and hoping that he would be shot down, his lawyer said. But this week, a federal court in St. Louis sentenced Leon to two years in prison. "This is very serious," U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Under the guidelines, this is treated like a stolen car.... I think this is an extraordinary situation in terms of cost and the hours involved." After Leon crossed the border without permission, the airplane was pursued by two F-16s as well as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection airplane.

Leon was a student at a flight school in Thunder Bay, and used his student key card to gain access to the airplane, without authorization. When the fighters didn't shoot him down and the airplane ran low on fuel, Leon said, he looked for an airport but couldn't find one, so he landed on a rural road. He was arrested by the highway patrol. Leon also said he regretted his actions. "I wanted to end my life," he said, "but God gave me a second chance."

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The FAA's DWI Crackdown back to top 

FAA Tightens Rules On Pilot DUI

The FAA has tightened up its treatment of pilots convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses. In the latest issue (PDF) of the Federal Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin, AMEs are advised that first-time DUI and DWI offenders don't necessarily escape the agency's scrutiny as they have in the past. As noted by Aero Legal ServicesUnder the new rules, anyone whose blood-alcohol content was measured at higher than .15 percent or who refused to provide a sample will automatically have their case referred by the AME to FAA headquarters. The FAA medics will then insist that the pilot applicant undergo a substance abuse assessment. Previously, on first offenses, AMEs had to review court records and make the call on whether the applicant had a problem. It's been suggested the tougher rules might tempt offenders to lie about it on their medical but that will likely make things worse.

In the fine print on the medical form is permission granted to the FAA to cross check the pilot applicant with the National Driver Registry, which compiles driving records. If the FAA gets a hit on the registry and then discovers the pilot didn't disclose the offense on the medical form, justice is swift and harsh. The FAA hates liars so the penalty for omitting the alcohol-related event (or anything else, including arrests that don't lead to conviction) is immediate revocation. There's also a requirement to report these offenses within 60 days of occurrence, regardless of the time remaining on a pilot's medical certification and failure to do so results in an immediate suspension.

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Fighting Fatigue back to top 

ALPA Adopts New Pilot Fatigue Policy

While the FAA continues to work on long-awaited new rules to cope with pilot fatigue, the Air Line Pilots Association this week announced its own new policy, which it says is based on the latest science and three years of work. "With the FAA's commitment to issue a new proposed flight- and duty-time rule by the end of the year, ALPA seized the opportunity to improve the safety and quality of work life for airline pilots by forging the strongest policy possible," ALPA President John Prater said on Tuesday. ALPA's policy takes into consideration seven different aspects of fatigue: rest, duty, extension of duty, cumulative fatigue, augmentation, reserve, and fatigue risk management systems.

The time of day is also taken into consideration, in recognition of the impact of circadian rhythms on fatigue --- for example, a pilot who reports for work between midnight and 4 a.m. would be restricted to a shorter overall flight-duty period for that day than a pilot whose day starts between 7 a.m. and midnight. "We won't know what is in the FAA's proposed rule until it is published," said Prater. "But if the FAA considers ALPA's new policy, and those of the other international aviation safety organizations, the result should be a regulation that sets the pace for progress in combating pilot fatigue around the globe."

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"Please Turn Off Your Personal Electronic Devices" back to top 

Cockpit Laptop Ban Eyed

North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan will propose a measure to ban the use of laptop computers and other "personal electronic devices" in airliner cockpits in response to the distraction of two Northwest Airlines pilots last month that they say led to their missing their destination of Minneapolis. Dorgan, chairman of the aviation subcommittee, told the Associated Press he was surprised that the use of such devices isn't specifically outlawed and that clearly there's a need for that kind of guidance. "We now understand from this flight at least that this can happen and there ought to be a more clear understanding by everyone in the cockpit that there is a national standard that would prohibit this and that they need to take it seriously," said Dorgan, D-N.D. His staff is currently working on the wording of the measure, which he confirmed will exempt electronic flight bags. There are a lot of other definitions that need to be nailed down, however.

The AP story mentions DVD players, MP3 players and "other devices" as being subject to the ban. There's also the question of what constitutes an airliner and whether other types of paying passenger services will be included in the ban. And since there's another law that requires the cockpit to be locked during flight, enforcement becomes another discussion point. Dorgan expects to have the bill ready next week and told the AP that he expects it to be included in a larger aviation bill (FAA Reauthorization?) to be considered by the Senate.

Question of the Week: A Laptop Ban in the Cockpit?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked what disciplinary measures might be appropriate for the crew of Northwest Flight 188.

Your answers ran the gamut, but the most popular choice was that the emergency revocation of their tickets seems a little extreme. 33% of respondents chose that option, with the second most popular option (it's a tough penalty but justified under the circumstances) garnering 28% of the votes.

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 Northwest Airlines pilots who had their certificates revoked say they forgot to land in Minneapolis because they were using their laptops. Now Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) wants a federal law against laptops and "other personal electronic devices" in the cockpit. Is that really necessary?

Should the use of laptops and other portable electronic devices be banned in the cockpit?
(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.

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

AOPA Summit 2009 Video Series: Production Skycatcher Debuts at AOPA Summit; AVweb Flies It

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

Cessna moves ever closer to opening the spigot on LSA production. The company arrived at AOPA Summit with a confirming version of the 162 Skycatcher, and AVweb took a spin.

This video is brought to you by Lightspeed Aviation and Ultra Electronics.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

AOPA Summit 2009 Video Series: Tecnam Aircraft's Rotax-Powered Twin

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

It burns 10 gallons an hour of auto gas and can do 150 knots. But is there a market for a Rotax-powered twin in the U.S.? AVweb's Jeff Van West takes a closer look at Tecnam's unique piston twin.

This video is brought to you by WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather and Bose Corporation

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

AOPA Summit 2009 Podcast Series: Looking to the Future at AOPA Summit

File Size 6.7 MB / Running Time 7:20

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AOPA's annual meeting in Tampa has a fresh look, and it's challenged its presenters to come up with some fresh ideas on the future of general aviation. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with AOPA President Craig Fuller.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation and WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather.

Click here to listen. (6.7 MB, 7:20)

AOPA Summit 2009 Podcast Series: AOPA Offers Medical Screenings at Summit

File Size 4.0 MB / Running Time 4:25

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Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Expanding its services to members, AOPA is offering medical screenings at the AOPA Summit, provided by Cook Medical. Specifically, abdominal aneurysms are a concern for pilot medical issuances, according to AOPA's director of medical certification services, Gary Crump. At the Summit, Cook Medical has set up several private examination booths, and members can get their results before leaving the show. In this podcast, Crump tells AVweb about additional medical services being offered this year at the association's health section.

This podcast is brought to you by Lightspeed Aviation and Ultra Electronics.

Click here to listen. (4.0 MB, 4:25)

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

How's Your Aircraft Partnership Working Out?

Aviation Consumer would like to know. We're most interested in hearing about successful long-term aircraft partnerships. What works for you? How have you sustained group ownership? And what effect has the current economic downturn had? Contact the editorial staff directly at avconsumer@comcast.net and we'll respond with our questions.

(The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.)

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.

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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week Will Return ...

Please bear with us; our regularly scheduled "POTW" feature will be a day or two late this week as we bring you daily coverage of the AOPA Summit in Tampa, Florida. In the meantime, feel free to send us your photos.
Names Behind the News
Volume 15, Number 44b back to top 
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