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Volume 15, Number 50a
December 14, 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: Another Benchmark for Boeing Dreamlinerback to top 
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Boeing test pilots lifted the nose of 787 Dreamliner during a 130-knot run down the runway at Paine Field Saturday in what is likely the precursor for a first flight on Tuesday. Last week Boeing announced the prototype had been structurally approved by company engineers and would be ready for first flight beginning Dec. 15, complete with a webcast that goes live 24 hours prior to first flight. The flight is expected to take about three hours and transfer the 787 from Paine Field to Boeing Field, near Seattle. As for the exact date, weather won't be the only determining factor. The company says that it will perform internal reviews and still needs final paperwork from the FAA. The aircraft is two years behind schedule, but for a project still in development, it has also attracted a record number of orders (totaling about 850, back in August) ... and many cancelations. More...

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Owning a Piece of Historyback to top 

Original parts of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, in which the famed pilot flew non-stop in 1927 alone across the Atlantic, will be auctioned at Bonhams New York auction house Dec. 15. Parts removed by Lindbergh engineer Kenneth Lane include shock absorber bungee cords, spark plugs and a rocker arm from the Wright J5-C Whirlwind that powered the flight. The auction house estimates the "lot" at $80,000-120,000, but that's not all. Two other lots include a historic hand-signed typed letter from Lindbergh to historian Ev Cassagneres, and a testimonial from Irvin Air Chutes in which then Cadet Lindbergh's March 6, 1925, midair is described. Those items are estimated to fetch less than $5,000 each. The items are considered to be "the only pieces of the plane, from her trans-Atlantic flight, ever to be auctioned," according to Bonhams. More...

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Another One for Your Holiday Wish Listback to top 

The "first" civilian-operated, privately owned Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker in the world, according to the people who are trying to sell it, is fresh off its restoration, flew Dec. 10 at Rockford, Ill., and is now for sale. Pride Aircraft says the jet departed Runway 25 into a 15-knot headwind, after a 1,100-foot ground roll at Chicago Rockford International Airport. The jet flew locally for about 45 minutes in 7-degree air (14 Celsius) and performed multiple missed approaches before landing. According to the FAA's online registry, the fighter is flying on a temporary certificate issued Dec. 2, 2009, that expires Jan. 1, 2010. According to Pride, the jet is the first ever to be "licensed" in the USA and one of a pair that represents "the first and only" two privately owned Flankers (both two-seat UB models) in the world. More...

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Meanwhile, at the FAAback to top 

Family members of those lost in the fatal crash of Continental Flight 3407 near Buffalo are pushing the Obama administration and FAA chief Randy Babbitt to impose a 1,500-hour minimum for the commercial pilot certificate. The crash, which killed all 49 aboard plus one on the ground, has inspired the formation of the group Families of Continental Flight 3407. That group had plans last week to meet with Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., who has sponsored a bill that would require the 1500-hour minimum for commercial certificate applicants. Babbitt is more in favor of changing the FAA's rules regarding training specific to certain types of operations -- particularly, how pilots seeking positions in commercial airliners are trained. As for the hour mandate, Babbitt has said flight hours alone may not guarantee proficiency. Babbitt is already under fire from lawmakers over other concerns. More...

Idaho politicians and the controllers' union claim the FAA is trying to rush through the planned closure of the Boise TRACON before a new FAA reauthorization package prevents such closures. According to the Idaho Statesman a local FAA official has confirmed TRACON functions will be transferred to Salt Lake City despite a call by the Idaho delegation in Congress to examine the motive behind the move. The FAA claims the move will save the agency about $1 million a year but the politicians want to have that claim audited. They reportedly had assurance from the FAA that the move would be postponed until the figures were analyzed. Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told the paper the move is strategic on the part of the FAA. "They're playing beat the clock," Church said. "They want to act before Congress steps in and includes language in the reauthorization bill that would put a stop to what they're doing in places like Boise." He also said the move is in defiance of testimony given by the FAA's Chief Operating Officer for the Air Traffic Organization, Hank Krakowski, who told a congressional subcommittee that TRACON closures are "in abeyance." More...

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R&D, P&Lback to top 

New research suggests that simply being near a lightning discharge while flying in an airplane may subject the you to the equivalent of 400 chest X-rays, or 7,500 hours of normal high-altitude flight. "Near" apparently means within about 300 yards and the potential dosage measures in at about 10 rem of exposure within less than a millisecond. "Ten rem is considered the maximum safe radiation exposure during a person's lifetime," according to Florida Today, which reported on the study. The bad news is that even aircraft that overfly storms aren't necessarily avoiding the radiation generated below. The good news is that the researchers didn't measure doses inside aircraft but estimated it based on computer models and satellite data. The better news, according to researchers, is that commercial aircraft are struck by lightning only about once or twice each year. Still, researchers do have some suggestions. More...

Rolls-Royce and GE are together battling Pratt & Whitney in the race to power the Joint Strike Fighter but critics say new problems with one team mean it's time to cut it loose, leaving the estimated $100 billion-over-30-years prize solely to the other. Rolls-Royce apparently must redesign a component that helps hold its engine together, a step that critics say will raise costs and increase delays at a time that the Obama administration is pushing to cut the program's overall costs. Congress has for years funded both engine development programs behind the logic that cutting either would remove competition and damage the product's final value. But critics argue that the JSF project is already $16 billion over budget. A spokesman for Rolls-Royce told the Independent UK that the necessary redesign is not complex and full testing will resume in the new year. Rolls-Royce is the sole developer of engines for the vertical take-off version of the JSF to be used by the Royal Navy, but demand for more conventional versions is expected to be substantially higher. That means big money -- politics are also an issue. More...

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Marketwatchback to top 

Cessna has announced plans to close its three plants in Columbus, Ga., including the $25 million 100,000-square-foot facility that it opened there in August 2008 and its McCauley Propeller facility. It will also move 175 subassembly jobs from Wichita. The timeframe for all the action is anywhere from six to 24 months. In Georgia, the closures will claim the remaining 315 workers of what was once a 600-person-strong workforce. Some of the work will move to Independence, Kan., and Mexico. Meanwhile, back in Wichita, and over the same time period, the company "will move some subassembly work," affecting, but perhaps not terminating, the jobs of 175 Wichita workers, spokesman Doug Oliver told The Wichita Eagle. "We need to continually attack costs and structure the business for predicted demand" of the company's aircraft, Oliver said. More...

What appeared originally as rumors of a catastrophic loss of investment capital leading to an actual "notice of insolvency" filing have been clarified by Remos as "a procedural option" under German law and now "a new capital injection" that solidifies the company. The company announced Thursday that an "additional significant investment" has made "secure the future of REMOS Aircraft" and will allow the company to move "strengthened into the year 2010." REMOS credited its two main shareholders, the Faerber Group of Munich and Pall Mall partners of London, for enabling "the introduction of new programs through which the company will be able to address new customer segments." REMOS claims itself to be "the world's leading manufacturer of Light Sport Aircraft" and says that in spite of the slow economy it "reached the goals" it set for the year 2009. More...

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


Letter of the Week: Space Certification Challenge

While the unveiling of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is a momentous occasion for all parties involved, I've noticed that a critical factor has been missing from coverage of the event: Information concerning the certification of the spacecraft and commercial space operations carrying passengers is notably absent from virtually all media.

If flights to paying customers are to come as early as 2011 as we are told, Virgin is surely facing one of the toughest certification programs ever seen, both for the vehicle and the operations they will be conducting with it. I do not doubt the safety of the craft. Scaled Composites has a proven track record of successful designs and I'm sure the flight test program will be thorough, but just because an aircraft can be operated safely does not mean that the government will give its blessing to carry paying passengers. I would like to know what will be expected of Virgin Galactic in order to proceed beyond the experimental stage, a realm unknown to manned spaceflight, government or private.

In addition to the challenges facing of Virgin Galactic, I have my doubts that the FAA would be able to come up with a new certification process for commercial manned spaceflight by 2011. There is a great deal of work ahead of many people, and given the high price of admission, I question whether there is enough interest from potential customers to justify the expense. Private experimental suborbital spaceflight is real, but some seem to have made the assumption that all it takes is a willing customer to make commercial spaceflight a reality. It will take much more than that and I want to see both Virgin Galactic and the FAA answer the tough questions that will have to be faced to bring this venture to fruition.

Ryan Lunde

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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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening?back to top 

IFR magazine's Jeff Van West talks with pilots from WWII (and just after) about the early days of instrument training and flying. These guys really lived on the edge — and went looking for thunderstorms to fly. More...

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

AVweb reader Scott Ross turned us on to this video of the first civilian registry SU-27 Sukhoi Flanker flying overhead ... in Rockford, Illinois. Scott tells us he "heard it banging around yesterday but didn't realize what it was. RFD's Runway 25 touchdown point is four miles from my house, and we are directly below the ILS. Wish I'd been outside when she went over. 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.
Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Ann Arbor Aviation Center at KARB in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

AVweb reader Armand Bendersky experienced the FBO's top-notch service just last week:

We had a flight of two arrive at ARB last Saturday ... [and] were greeted by a young but friendly and efficient line crew. ... They could not have been more helpful. Not only did they arrange transportation for the group of seven pilots ... [but] they put my plane in a hangar ... with a smile and great efficiency. They fueled our planes while we were in town gorging ourselves at Zingerman's Deli and gave us a 10-cent discount. Great service by nice people. I look forward to visiting them again in the near future.

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 


A few years ago, I was routinely flying my Bonanza from Houston Hobby to Austin. The trip was normally very predictable, including the knowledge that radio traffic, when handed over to Austin Approach, was extremely busy and communications needed to be very efficient. On one trip, the Approach controller changed those rules and added some levity.

"Bonanza 56, turn right, heading 350. I hate to tell you this, but you're number 9 for landing, and I have to send you up to Georgetown."

Bonanza 56W (me) :
"No problem; those Boeings have a lot more passengers than I do."

"56W, what speed can you give me to the outer marker?"

Bonanza 56W:
"I can give you 150 knots."

"Great. If you can do that, I'll give you a kiss. Turn left, heading 280, and join the localizer 17L."

Bonanza 56W:
"Left to 280, join the localizer 17L, and I'll pass on the kiss."


Southwest 123:
"SW 123 checking in on the localizer 17R. And we'll pass on the kiss, too."

[Other aircraft check in and add to the laughter.]

"Hey, I'm getting my feelings hurt here! SW 123, ask one of your flight attendants if they would like the kiss."

SW 123:
"Stand by."

[After a few moments ... .]

SW 123:
"Approach, SW 123. One of our flight attendants will meet you on the ground for the kiss. His name is Kevin."

John Yates
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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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.

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