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Volume 15, Number 46a
November 16, 2009
Is There Anything More Important than Protecting Your Family?
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Top News: The FAA and Safetyback to top 
Sponsor Announcement
Piper Aircraft's Wichita Job Fair - 
November 20 & 21, 2009

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a news conference Friday that the FAA had not contacted NORAD soon enough regarding wayward Northwest Flight 188 -- he also said things would change. Flight 188 last month went silent and overshot MSP by 150 miles, but the FAA did not notify other agencies about the loss of radio contact until one hour and nine minutes after last contact. In a news release, the FAA announced it "has taken steps to ensure more accurate preliminary information about air traffic events can be provided to top officials more quickly." As part of that push, the FAA will be updating its training and procedures for how controllers handle aircraft that have gone NORDO. The FAA says new incident notification procedures will be adopted by the end of the month and it will review changes to training and procedures by the end of January, 2010. The agency noted specific goals. More...

Thursday, the FAA froze the issuance of new airworthiness certificates for Zodiac CH-601XL series aircraft; Friday the NTSB released news of another Zodiac in-flight break-up and made an example of its earlier recommendations to the FAA. The FAA's most recent action forces operators seeking airworthiness certificates for the model to prove they've made specific modifications meant to prevent aerodynamic flutter. A Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin issued on November 7 by the FAA already effectively grounded some of the aircraft that were not in compliance -- and there's the catch. The Zodiac is available as a Light Sport Aircraft and an Experimental category amateur-built kit. So far, the FAA's actions do not require that modifications be made to the amateur-built planes. The aircraft involved in the most recent (November 6) fatal crash was amateur-built. In reviewing that accident, the NTSB noted recommendations it had previously sent to the FAA that, had they been implemented, may have prevented the latest fatal crash. More...

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Looking to the Future of Flight (Part I)back to top 

NextGen will move parts of the air traffic control system from the ground to the cockpit -- so who should pay for the acquisition and installation of that part of the system? The government is expected to invest some $20 billion in creating the infrastructure that will be NextGen air traffic control, but the airlines (and general aviation advocacy groups) are hoping for federal funds to help offset the cost of equipping their aircraft, and they've got help. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Lawrence Summers, a senior White House economic aide, agrees with a broad coalition of about a dozen industry interests that support government assistance to jump start the equipage of aircraft. Of course, equipment makers are among those pushing for such aid. The standing economic argument is that an investment of $10 billion over five years would translate to industrywide fuel savings of about $2 billion each year, forever, and early implementation would reduce overall spending on the program. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt says upgrading the air traffic control system is "not optional," but the catch is the federal deficit -- a political hot-button likely to become hotter as elections near. More...

The DOE intends to develop biofuels that can act as drop in replacements for diesel and gasoline and believes that domestic sources -- including both cellulosic ethanol and algae-based fuels -- can match almost 100 percent of the U.S. demand. Biomass Magazine has reported that the agency has solicited $50 million for algal biofuel development through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The goal is to apply the monies to develop a consortium of research and development teams that will aggregate all the experts and apply their work to key targets. Currently, the DOE hopes to accelerate the development of hydrocarbon-based biofuels, targeting a pilot scale rollout at the end of five years. DOE hopes algae-based fuels could hope to be at the same stage within about ten years if funds are released to allow development of a consortia-based research program. Algae's potential productivity far outpaces that of land-based crop productivity (corn), but hurdles remain and the DOE has set deadlines. More...

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The Future of Flight (Part II)back to top 

Solar Impulse, the solar powered aircraft whose developers hope to fly around the world has been getting out of the hangar recently and getting the juice flowing through its electric motors. The most recent excursion last Wednesday was captured (and nicely narrated) by AVweb reader Thomas Netter, who lives about 20 minutes from Dubendorf Airfield where the huge high aspect ratio flying wing is being built. According to the Solar Impulse project's Web site the excursion was aimed at testing the effect of the electric motors on the aircraft's electronics, a test the builders say went well, along with giving onlookers a pretty good look at the aircraft in operation. More...

Between two and four Able Flight Scholarship recipients will next summer earn their Sport Pilot certificates in one month of training at Purdue University thanks to a new agreement. The University has partnered with Able Flight to combine the mission of providing flight training to people with physical disabilities with the services of a major university flight school. In the partnership, Able Flight will select the winners, giving priority to physically challenged local residents and current or incoming Purdue students with physical disabilities. It will also supply at least one specially adapted Light Sport Aircraft for the training. Purdue will provide the scholarship winners with university housing and instructors. According to Able Flight's Charles Stites, the arrangement will provide more options to the new flight students. More...

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Safety Revisitedback to top 

Boeing announced Thursday that it has corrected the structural flaw located at the wing/fuselage joint that was discovered during testing, and applied the fix to the first of its 787 jetliners, but that doesn't mean the jet is ready for prime time. The fix applies 34 reinforced fittings that will this month (November) be tested on a static airframe prior to Boeing's resumption of preflight preparations. Boeing still hopes to showcase the airliner's first flight before year's end. Boeing isolated the joint problem in computer modeling that showed high loads at the fuselage end of stringers running inside the upper wing skins, 17 per side. Then, ground testing revealed composite delamination at the stress points. The new fix reinforces the attach points at the joint where the stringers connect to points in the fuselage. Boeing has postponed first flight and delivery dates five times, according to the Chicago Tribune, putting it more than two years behind its original schedule and contributing (along with the worldwide recession) to the cancellation of orders. Boeing has won orders this year, but not as many as it has lost. More...

The arrest of a United pilot Monday, for allegedly drinking prior to his flight, has helped unearth statistics that, according to the Associated Press, show him to be "the third U.S. pilot arrested in 13 months" on similar charges, but FAA records may suggest the number should be higher. USA Today reported federal statistics showing that over the past decade "nearly a dozen" pilots per year test positive for alcohol while attempting to fly. Those figures are distilled from sample of the group that starts as a pool of about 140,000 active ATP rated pilots. But not all of those pilots use their certificates vocationally, and not all of them are tested. Testing, which looks for a blood alcohol content of more than 0.04 percent, usually involves about 10,000 randomly selected pilots each year. While the NTSB has not attributed any airline crash to drunkenness in the cockpit, there are political ramifications as the numbers feed into the news-of-the-day mix that includes the Northwest overflight of MSP and the taxiway landing at ATL. More...

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Reports from the North and Southback to top 

A well-known Georgia pilot was arrested and jailed Wednesday after an incident at Griffin Spalding Airport near Atlanta. Griffin Police say Dan Gryder, whose DC-3 is a frequent performer at aviation events, has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one of obstruction. Gryder did not immediately respond to AVweb's request for comment and Griffin Police did not immediately return voice messages. According to the Atlanta Constitution Journal police said the incident began when two code enforcement officers responded to a complaint of someone driving a car across the runway. When they approached Gryder, he allegedly gave them a false name and then refused to sign six citations. He then boarded the DC-3, started at least one engine and "told one of the officers that if she moved, he would strike her car, police said," the newspaper reported. The code officer called for backup and police "flooded the area" as Gryder taxied the 72-year-old airliner to the runway. More...

Most people have heard about -40 degrees and many have experienced it but not many have started a radial engine in it. For the folks at Buffalo Airways, it's all in a day's work and now the daily drama of the airline, charter and firefighting contractor based in Yellowknife, in Canada's Northwest Territory, is coming to living rooms in more comfortable climes. The Canadian cable network History Television (not to be confused with the U.S.-based History Channel) is premiering Ice Pilots NWT Nov. 18 at 10 p.m. As Buffalo Airways general manager Mikey McBryan told AVweb in a podcast interview, the television network didn't have to create the television series. Buffalo Airways, with its fleet of ancient airliners (including the only two commercially operated C-46 Commandos in the world) was a reality/documentary television series waiting to be discovered. More...

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Training, AVweb, FAA WINGS, and Youback to top 

If you're a regular reader of AVweb and our sister aviation publications, you know that safety is a thread through practically everything we do. That's why we're delighted to help AVweb readers gain access to the latest in flight safety information courtesy of the Advocates for Aviation Safety Foundation Inc. (AASF). Have a look on the right side of the news section of the AVweb home page and you'll find a slick little widget that allows you to plug in your zip code and find FAA Safety Team seminars being held within 100 miles of your zip. AVweb publisher Tim Cole said it's another utility AVweb offers to help pilots. "Safety is on every pilot's mind and this feature is just another way that we can help pilots achieve their safety goals," Cole said. "We also recently added PIC Brief, which provides flight planning and other information with the stroke of a few keys, courtesy of WingX." Both utilities are free of charge and can be found on the home page at any time — just scroll down the blue column and look for our "Pilot Resources" block. More...

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News Briefsback to top 

Those drawn to flight at least in part because of the unique visual perspective it provides lost an advocate Tuesday in the passing of aerial photographer Robert Cameron, who died at the age of 98. Famous for his "Above" series of 15 coffee table books, Cameron's view of the world was immortalized in overhead images shot from aircraft. The cities his work made more famous include New York, London, Paris, Mexico City and San Francisco, which itself was the subject of a four-volume series titled "Above San Francisco." Cameron's most popular photography was created in the later years of his life and his work continued until just three months before his death. Cameron suffered from macular degeneration and was nearly blind for that last flight, having minimal vision in his right eye and none at all in his left, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Cameron's surviving relatives have a special request for his fans. More...

If you'd like to fly a Zeppelin one day...
AOPA honored Walter Fricke. More...

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


Letter of the Week: Whining Pilots

In a given week, my career responsibilities may take me to two or three cities across the US. On more than one occasion, I've seen both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts on the same itinerary. Airline travel is not without annoyances, but in recent weeks, a particular thing has started working its way to the top of my list of travel peeves; whining airline pilots. I can guarantee with 95 percent certainty that if two or more people with white shirts and epaulettes are chatting together in an airline terminal, they're probably complaining about their jobs.

Airline flying is among the most respected of all professions, and the outwardly negative demeanor I see detracts tremendously from the well-earned image. As a private pilot who strives to maintain the utmost professionalism in my flying, I'm heretofore going to do my own part to restore prestige to the role of commanding the big iron. From now on, whenever I see pilots complaining in the terminal, their names and an account of their actions will be sent to airline customer service at my earliest convenience. I'd encourage the rest of my travel companions to do the same.

Airline pilots, I know the job ain't what it used to be, and it's not likely to change for the better. Ruminate all you want in private, but when wearing your uniform in view of passengers who entrust their lives to you, provide the modicum of professionalism the people expect. If that's too much to ask, please turn in your stripes and earn your pay on the ground like the rest of us.

Matthew Sawhill

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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...

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It's time to shop for special gift items and stocking stuffers for every pilot or aircraft enthusiast on your list. Click now to visit AVweb's Holiday Marketplace.
New on AVwebback to top 

Like a lot of kids, Mikey McBryan grew up around airplanes but he thought it was normal to coax DC-3 engines to life at -40°. A Vancouver TV producer thought those kinds of experiences would make a cool reality series and Ice Pilots NWT premieres on Canada's History Television Wednesday night. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Mikey about growing up with one of the largest round-engine fleets still flying and in some of the harshest conditions on earth. More...

In his new book Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide and the "Miracle" on the Hudson, author William Langewiesche notes that Flight 1549's Chesley Sullenberger never said what he thought of the Airbus A320 and its fly-by-wire control laws. On our AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli says Langewiesche makes the convincing point that Airbus engineering had a hand in this accident's successful outcome. More...

Oh, great — now Paul Bertorelli imagines himself the Leonard Maltin of the aviation world in this, his first film review. If you've seen the new film Amelia log into the AVweb Insider blgo and have a go at your own comments. More...

Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the facilities at Kansas Air Center at Manhattan Regional Airport (KMHK) in Manhattan, Kansas.

AVweb reader Wade Logan explained how KAC exceeded his expectations from start to finish while he was in Manhattan:

As I pulled into the ramp, I was immediately greeted by three line technicians: The first parked me, the second cleaned my windscreen before I even was out of the plane, and the third had a placed a purple K-State Wildcat rug at my door. The facility was top-notch (exceptionally clean), and the fuel prices are the lowest I have come across in a long while. The founder/owner is extremely courteous, and I even saw him cleaning some windscreens himself!

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!


The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 


On a recent trip in my Cirrus from KSAV to KPDK, I had this exchange with Atlanta Approach. (This was right after the FL-GA football game where the Gators won ... again.)

"N267CP, you are cleared to PDK via the TRBOW8 arrival. Proceed direct from present position to TRBOW."

N267CP (me) :
"N267CP cleared direct TRBOW for the TRBOW8. Are you sure that shouldn't be renamed TEBOW for the beating that your Bulldogs took?"

"N267CP, one more remark about the beatdown, and I will amend your clearance to IAH, LAX direct PDK!"

N267CP"N267CP O.K. TRBOW8 it is!"

"Smart man."

Steve King
via e-mail


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.