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Volume 15, Number 47a
November 23, 2009
Business Aviation Will Help Companies Not Only Survive
But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

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. Visit
Top News: Electronics Ban an Overreaction?back to top 
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Proposed Senate bills in the wake of Northwest Airlines' October 21 NORDO flight past MSP have some pilots on edge, fearing they may bring about "grotesque consequences," according to an article published Thursday in USA Today. Because the now notorious Northwest pilots of Flight 188 claimed they had been distracted by laptops, electronic devices in the cockpit quickly became the target of proposed legislative bans. However, pilots are concerned that such a ban could hamper attempts to introduce safety and situational awareness oriented equipment, including portable electronic charts, electronic airport maps and e-checklists/flight manuals. While building those systems into existing and fixed cockpit hardware is possible, it's also costly and the bills' opponents fear that more cost-effective solutions may be legislated out of the mix. More...

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Meanwhile, at the FAAback to top 

The FAA is proposing limits on the ability of airlines, flight schools, fractional ownership programs and other certificated organizations to hire former FAA personnel to represent them before the FAA in FAA matters. The FAA rule would specifically prevent former FAA safety inspectors and managers from representing a company if the individual had any direct oversight of said company at any time during the preceding two years. Current rules covering federal employees (and therefore FAA employees) may not appear especially different, but according to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, "the 'cooling off' period we're proposing actually exceeds the restrictions applicable to most businesses that hire former federal employees." The rule would not prevent companies from hiring the former inspectors to work in other capacities -- they could become maintenance techs, flight instructors, dispatchers, etc. -- but they could not serve in a position that placed them between a company and the FAA in matters related to the agency. More...

A malfunctioning router was behind the system-wide slowdown of the air traffic control system last Thursday. The glitch occurred in Salt Lake City at the fortunate hour of about 5 a.m. EST. At that time, the router's impending failure resulted in the delivery of misinformation about flight paths and weather to controllers. The problem remained unresolved for four hours, forcing the FAA to lighten the workload of controllers and leading to delays of about 45 minutes to 80 minutes at the nation's busiest airports -- less than a bad weather day. But unlike weather, and although it was only the second such failure in about 15 months, this problem was theoretically avoidable and effectively crippled the transference of information across a network that delivers phone, e-mail and flight data to air traffic controllers. It's also an example of the layers of modern hardware that the FAA has had to connect with archaic technologies still in place throughout the system. "This is like going into the house and having to redo the plumbing and electrical," the Flight Safety Foundation's William Voss told The Wall Street Journal of Thursday's failure. "It's essential for anything else to work." More...

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The Check Valve Lifter Is in the Mailback to top 

Although supplies are limited, Teledyne Continental said this week that it's beginning to ship replacement valve lifter units to replace several thousand faulty units installed in O-240, O-360, O-470, O-520 and O-550 engines. TCM says "an issue" with a vendor component required the recall of those defective lifters under MSB09-8. The affected lifters are subject to excessive rates of wear. The company says airplanes should be grounded until the lifters have been replaced. The part numbers are PN657913 for exhaust valves, 657915 for intake valves and 657916 for either exhaust or intake. Look here for a list of affected engines. More...

Sensenich Expands Its Revolutionary Line of Propellers for Light Sport and Experimental Aircraft
Lighter in weight, easier to navigate and less expensive to fly, Sensenich's composite props are also stronger than similar props. Their carbon construction allows the propeller's weight to aerodynamically optimize flight and minimize its susceptibility to harmonic vibration damage. Pitch-adjustable, their built-in stops ensure selection of the most efficient pitch. Click here to check 'em out.
Rights and Regulationsback to top 

A European court, amid strong airline protest, has set rules for the monetary compensation of passengers based on the distance of their scheduled flights and the amount of time by which passengers were delayed. Maximum compensation is 600 Euros (about $900). Specific guidelines define compensation rates that begin at 250 Euros ($375) to be determined by the time of delay and the distance of flight. The airlines have not yet proposed that passengers pay compensation to them if they provide early arrival, but speaking for Virgin Atlantic, spokesman Paul Charles called the judges "cuckoo." Charles said, "The idea that a technical fault is within an airline's control is absurd." The regulations stipulate conditions for reimbursement of ticket costs and a return flight to the original departure point or re-routing "under comparable transport conditions" to their destination. Passengers delayed by more than three hours could receive as much as those whose flights were canceled, according to the Telegraph UK. This is a European Court of Justice ruling. That means that the task of interpreting its final meaning will be left to national courts. More...

Customer demand, not government regulation, forced a 70-percent improvement in the fuel efficiency of jet aircraft over the past 40 years and further improvement should be modeled on industry and public-sector cooperation, according to Cessna CEO Jack Pelton. Pelton delivered his remarks at an annual international environmental congress meeting near Paris. Failure to work together in partnership, said Pelton, could stifle progress. Pelton said the greatest industry improvements have been made as "the result of customer demand and market forces, not regulation." He noted that during the same period jet engines saw their market-driven 70-percent efficiency improvement, federally regulated auto industry standards correlated with improvements closer to 15 percent. Pelton also made his case for Cessna as a good environmental citizen, noting that the company's green contributions have gone beyond technological developments in aviation. More...

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Tomorrow Tech, Part 1back to top 

Solar Impulse, the manned aircraft that will attempt to travel nonstop around the world flying day and night on solar energy alone, moved under its own power for the first time last week. The carbon-fiber aircraft was propelled by its own four motors (not at full power) over approximately 2 km at speeds no greater than about 10 knots, but the team was "very excited" about the tests, according to BBC News. It's an airplane that's "the size [a wingspan of more than 200 feet] of an Airbus and the weight [about 4,000 pounds] of a mid-sized car," Solar Impulse Chief Executive Andre Borschberg said. Special precautions were taken for the initial ground taxi testing. An additional undercarriage was placed under the cabin as can extra safeguard in case the aircraft's regular undercarriage unexpectedly failed. The taxi test took place at the aircraft's home at Dubendorf aerodrome in Switzerland where, in about two weeks, team leaders hope it will take a first hop. Then, after flying just a few meters over the runway to prove its flight characteristics, the real tests will begin. More...

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Tomorrow Tech, Part 2back to top 

An Idaho farmer who uses an unmanned aircraft for precision farming hopes to find a market for his specialty UAV. Blair calls his 9-foot wingspan unmanned reconnaissance aircraft "a hobby plane on steroids." It weighs in at about ten pounds, carries two digital cameras, is onboard-GPS-guided, usually flies between 400 and 2,000 feet AGL, cruises at about 35 mph and can cover up to 640 acres in less than half an hour. The vehicle provides Blair with on-demand service (in winds less than 20 mph), taking pictures of his wheat, barley, pea, lentil and garbanzo bean crops, plus hay and cattle on his 1,500-acre Idaho farm. The system provides substantially more flexibility at a lower cost than satellite and fixed-wing aircraft. (The latter once cost him about $9,000 per flight.) Blair says using a UAV allows him to make timely and localized highly efficient adjustments to his crops and land both during and after the growing season, boosting his productivity while saving money on seed and fertilizer. "With unmanned aircraft systems, we're trying to bring everything together so a farmer can have everything at his fingertips whenever he wants," Blair said. He's already filed paperwork seeking the FAA's approval for the next step -- commercialization. More...

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New on AVwebback to top 

Jay Olburg and Scott Ross have cooked up another fantastic video production, this time showcasing a 1941 Waco SRE owned by Steve and Tina Thomas and a '36 ECQ-6 flown by Bob Grist on their way to the Brodhead Grass Roots Fly-In. Enjoy! More...

From broken guitars to missed destinations to drunk pilots, airlines have been taking it on the chin recently. A little humor goes a long way to putting it all in perspective, and the following clip, which seems to have originated in a church humor blog, looks at how Lutheran Airlines makes flying a down-to-earth experience. More...

Q: What's the Difference Between a $10,000 Annual and a $2,500 Annual?

Mike Busch and his team of seasoned maintenance professionals are saving their aircraft-owner clients thousands of dollars a year in parts and labor — not to mention hours of hassle — by providing professional maintenance management for owner-flown singles and twins. Learn how they do it.
Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

But how is that they would make several attempts at a runway in poor weather, miss those approaches, and deem it a better bet to ditch in the ocean instead? At night. Norfolk Island's unique geography may shed light on this, according to Paul Bertorelli's post on the AVweb Insider blog. More...

When that med mission Westwind went into the water off Norfolk Island in the Pacific last week, everyone got out alive. But how hard is it to do that? During the day, not so bad. At night? Not so easy. It's been on Paul Bertorelli's mind lately, and he's dedicated a post on the AVweb Insider blog to explaining how training and discipline make it possible. More...

Find the Perfect Gift (Or Sell Your Gift 
Item) Here!
Ho, Ho Holiday Gift Guide
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.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

Our cup did runneth over AOPA Summit last week, but we managed some time to shoot another brief video on cool products we saw, including a Cirrus engine modification from Next Dimension, Flightline Systems' new AuRACLE Engine Monitor for legacy twins, a nifty flashlight that's really a glove, and a new Cessna 210 inspection guide from the Cessna Pilots Association. More...

Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to another TAC Air location, this time the one Lexington, Kentucky.

AVweb reader Melvin Price spent a little more time at KLEX than he intended and got to know the FBO well when his Piper Malibu's battery died just prior to departure:

The line man immediatedly brought the battery cart, but my battery was so low that it could not maintain the alternators online. ... The adjoining maintenance shop was contacted, and they offered to charge my battery for three hours. ... While waiting for the battery to charge, the ladies behind the counter offered me the crew car and directions to a good lunch spot. ... I was very impressed with the entire operation, and the best part was that I did not have to pay for the three different external starts nor for the battery charge, although I offered. ... [E]xcept for losing a few hours of time, my visit to Lexington's TAC Air was exemplary in all ways.

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 


Overheard over the Florida panhandle this week.

Jax Center:
"Airliner 123, Jacksonville Center. Climb and maintain FL 320."

[20 seconds later]

Jax Center:
"Airliner 123, Jacksonville Center. Climb and maintain FL 320."

[30 seconds later]

Jax Center:
"Airliner 123, do you copy Jacksonville Center?"

Airliner 123:
"Airliner 123. Climb and maintain 320. Sorry — we were on our laptops."

Jax Center (laughter in the background) :
"Roger that. I guess that's going to be you guys' version of our 'Say again. I was on the landline.'"

Mac Tichenor
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.

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