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Volume 15, Number 50b
December 17, 2009
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Top News: Apportioning Blameback to top 
Sponsor Announcement
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Colgan Air, in a 67-page statement (PDF) to the NTSB filed last week, blamed the two pilots for the fatal crash of a Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 turboprop near Buffalo, N.Y., in February. "The probable cause of the accident was the flight crew's loss of situational awareness and failure to follow Colgan Air training and procedures, which led to a loss of control of the aircraft," the company wrote. The Air Line Pilots Association, however, filed a statement (PDF) citing problems with Colgan's training and procedures, as well as issues with the aircraft. "Colgan's Internal Evaluation Program failed to identify errors in the Captain's records," according to ALPA's statement. The company flight manual was "incomplete and inaccurate," the crew resource management program was "ineffective and outdated," and the airline's approach-to-stall training "was not accomplished or checked in accordance with the Airline Transport Pilot Practical Test Standards," ALPA said. More...

Both pilots who were distracted on their laptops while flying a Northwest Airbus A-320 off-course in October told NTSB investigators they were sorry and at a loss to explain the lapse. The NTSB's summary of its crew interviews (PDF) was released on Wednesday among a slew of documents from its investigation. In the summary, the NTSB said First Officer Richard Cole told investigators there was no excuse for not monitoring the aircraft and he had to take blame. Both pilots had tunnel vision and were focused on their discussion of a complicated new crew scheduling system, Cole said. "The F/O said he never thought he could be so distracted for so long," according to the NTSB summary. Capt. Timothy Cheney also told the safety board he had "no excuse" for the lapse in attention. "I let my guard down ... I wish I could explain why," he said. More...

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Proficiency's Magic Number?back to top 

Requiring 1500-hour ATP certificates for all Part 21 pilots could actually reduce safety according to the National Association of Flight Instructors. In a news release and briefing paper that debunks the impetus behind congressional resolutions that equate the hours required to obtain an ATP with competence in the cockpit. "The emphasis should be on training and quality of training, not just on total flight experience," said NAFI Executive Director Jason Blair. " In most accidents over recent years, this [1,500-hour] requirement would have made no difference at all. More...

Ed. Note: An earlier story published in AVweb on this topic contained incorrect information. The amended version follows.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 pilots flying part 121. 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. 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.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 pilots flying part 121. 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. 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...

Lightspeed Zulu || Change Your Mind
Lightspeed Aviation Has an Easy Way for You to Cross a Big Gift Off Your Shopping List ... And Make Your Favorite Pilot's Greatest Wish Come True
For the first time ever, Lightspeed is teaming up with its dealers to offer a special holiday discount on the Zulu. Just talk to your nearest authorized dealer for all the details. And hurry — this offer ends on 12/24/09. Go to to see what the Zulu excitement is all about.
Safety Bulletin for SR22s in Known Icing Conditionsback to top 

The FAA this week issued a new Airworthiness Directive affecting some Cirrus SR22 airplanes equipped with an anti-ice system approved for flight into known icing. Operators must inspect the compression fittings on the anti-ice fluid distribution lines to be sure they were installed correctly. The AD was issued on Monday without any preliminary notice after an anti-ice fluid line separation was found during a quality-assurance inspection at the Cirrus Design manufacturing plant. The separation could result in a total loss of ice-protection fluid supply to the protected surfaces. That loss would allow ice to build on the airplane and degrade handling qualities and performance, the FAA said. Any fittings that were not properly installed must be repaired, the FAA said. The AD takes effect Dec. 21. Comments may be filed until Jan. 28. Cirrus had issued a service bulletin in November advising owners to inspect and repair the fittings. More...

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. || Your 
Holiday Superstore
Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.: Your Holiday Superstore!
Aircraft Spruce has an excellent selection of portable GPSs, pilot supplies, headsets, avionics, instruments, wheels, tires, oils, filters, books, DVDs, and aviation software. Within the Pilot Supply section of their web site, a gift section is available to help with your holiday purchases. View in dollar increments like $30, $50, $100, $200, or $500 items, or view based on product type to select from desk pen sets, headsets, clocks, apparel, games, and more. Aircraft Spruce gift cards are also available in any denomination and can include a custom note for your recipient. Call 1 (877) 4-SPRUCE or visit
The Clock Is Ticking on Your Holiday Shoppingback to top 

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, our inbox is overflowing with aviation-related gift ideas. For those in the airplane-shopping mood, perhaps looking to take the bonus-depreciation tax write-off before the end of the year, Liberty Aerospace, in Melbourne, Fla., is selling eight of its demonstrator airplanes at deep discounts. The XL2 two-seaters are selling for $115,000 to $153,000, marked down from standard prices up to $210,000. Click here for more info. Diamond Aircraft said recently that for a limited time, they will match customer down payments with up to 10 percent of the actual purchase price, plus offer Garmin Synthetic Vision Technology free on selected models. "Combined with bonus depreciation ... this program presents our best retail offer ever," said Peter Maurer, president of Diamond Aircraft Industries. Mooney is offering financing rates as low as 2.99 percent and flexible leaseback options to entice buyers. "This is an unprecedented opportunity to own the best," says Wayne Fischer, director of sales for Mooney. For those with somewhat less to spend on holiday gifts, there are plenty of other options. More...

Watch 'Real Pilot Stories: The Impossible 
Turn' from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation
Caught on Tape: Watch Aerial Footage of the Impossible Turn
When his Mooney's engine failed soon after takeoff, Dave Keller needed to land immediately. But rather than seek a landing spot straight ahead or off to the side, he chose to execute the "impossible turn" back to the airport, a maneuver no pilot should ever attempt. With aerial footage captured by Keller's own panel-mounted video camera, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's latest Real Pilot Story: The Impossible Turn puts you in the right seat as the event develops.

Click here to watch now.
Looking Ahead to 2010back to top 

Both the House and the Senate have signed off on an FAA funding bill that extends funding for the agency through March 31. The FAA has been operating under such extensions since 2007, when its last long-term authorization expired. Aviation advocacy groups that have been lobbying for reauthorization and fighting against user-fee proposals had hoped that the new administration, and a new administrator, would help to push through a longer-term plan before the end of this session. AOPA, for example, "maintains that a long-term funding package offers the best assurance of achieving air transportation system modernization swiftly and efficiently. ... The need to pass a long-term authorization is evident." Legislators also are frustrated. "The FAA has been operating under a string of short-term extensions for over two years," said Sen. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., chair of the Senate aviation subcommittee. "Short-term extensions and uncertain funding levels can be disruptive to the aviation industry and communities because they do not allow them to plan for long-term growth. Frankly, every month that goes by without a long-term FAA authorization is a lost opportunity to improve aviation safety, security, and to create and maintain jobs around the country." More...

Mass arrivals are nothing new at AirVenture Oshkosh but this will be one for the history books. An organization called The Last Time is inviting DC-3 and C-47 operators to participate in a 25-ship formation to arrive at Wittman Field on the opening day of AirVenture 2010 next July 26. "This historic flight will recreate an image of a time gone by," say the organizers. The huge formation will kick off a week of festivities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the legendary aircraft and the people who served with it in hundreds of different roles. It's being announced today to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the first flight of the aircraft at the Douglas factory in Long Beach, Calif. EAA is hoping for dozens of DC-3s and C-47s to attend AirVenture but there are only 25 slots open for the formation flight and the funding assistance that goes with it. More...

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Weekback to top 

At 10:28 a.m. local time on Tuesday, the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner took off from Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Wash., into cloudy skies, before a crowd of about 16,000. The flight was scheduled to last about four hours, but after three hours spent circling above Puget Sound, with weather deteriorating, the crew touched down with a smooth landing at Boeing Field, in Seattle. The test pilots performed a long list of basic tests and systems checks, and they reported that the airplane flew beautifully, with "no surprises." Five more copies of the 787 will be used in the flight test program, which is expected to take about nine months, with first deliveries late in 2010. The company said it has about 840 orders for the airplane, from 55 different customers. More...

Swift Enterprises announced this week that its biomass fuel, designed as a replacement for 100LL, has been OK'd by ASTM International for use as a test fuel. "With this approval, we can begin full-scale testing with industry stakeholders," said Mary Rusek, president and co-owner of Swift. Extensive testing of aircraft fuel systems, engines and materials compatibility must take place before 100SF can be fully certified as airworthy. Rusek said once testing is complete, the fuel will be comparably priced to other GA fuels and more efficient. Also this week, 13 major airlines signed on to work with two producers of alternative jet fuel, AltAir Fuels and Rentech. "Our intention as an airline industry is to continue to do our part by supporting the use of alternative fuels," said Glenn Tilton, CEO of United Airlines and chairman of the Air Transport Association. "We urge the U.S. government and the investment community also to do their part to further support this critical energy opportunity," he said. The new agreements are nonbinding, but ATA said they lay "critical groundwork for negotiations over specific alternative-fuels purchase agreements." More...


Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."


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

The National Association of Flight Instructors is saying that hours of experience may not translate to a measurable level of skill in pilots. We'd like your opinion on the matter.

Plus: Last week, we asked AVweb readers about through-the-fence agreements; click through to see what they had to say on the subject. More...

Do you own a portable GPS? Aviation Consumer magazine wants to know how it has held up for you. Does it do everything you need? Was it a good value for the money? Have there been issues with service and support? Follow this link to our brief online survey and let your voice be heard. It will only take a few minutes, and your comments can be anonymous if you want. Thanks for helping out, and look for a round-up review of portable GPS products in the February issue of Aviation Consumer. (Click here for subscription deals for AVweb readers.) More...

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...

Rediscover Jet City!
Make King County International Airport/Boeing Field your flight destination! Conveniently located just 5 miles from downtown Seattle, KBFI is positioned in the center of the growing economy of the Puget Sound region, serving as a hub for business travel, private jets, and general aviation travel. Partner with aviation experts when you fly to Seattle. Make your destination King County International Airport/Boeing Field! For more information, visit online.
Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

Curious what AVweb Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli is up to at this very moment? Assuming he's not testing a product for Aviation Consumer, eating, sleeping, or putting together some sort of list of things for the AVweb team to do, he's probably reading. Find out what's keeping him riveted this week in the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog. More...

The United States military officially retired one its most venerable and recognizable aircraft this year, Bell Helicopter's UH-1. For many a U.S. veteran, the Huey is nearly synonymous with his tour of duty. AVweb Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli reflects on the rotored workhorse in his latest post to our blog, the AVweb Insider. More...

Become a Mooniac Now
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 warranty in the industry, and immediate delivery from current inventory. In the Western U.S., contact Jennifer Mitchell at jmitchell[at] for information. As a Mooney owner herself, Jennifer can guide you through the purchase process.

Click here for the top 10 reasons to buy a Mooney now.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

Come along with the editors of IFR magazine for a quick tour of Cape Air's pilot training program. The program brings green pilots up to snuff for flying the Cessna 402 in single-pilot IFR and relies heavily on cockpit flows and pilot manuals of Cape Air's own design. More...

Gift Certificates from the AVweb 
AVweb Bookstore Gift Certificate
The perfect gift for any aviator. Good for how-to books, training manuals, or any printed or eBook from AVweb Bookstore, the world's most complete aviation educational catalog. Order one now in any denomination, and an attractive certificate will be mailed to you for your giving pleasure.
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!


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.
Reader-Submitted Photosback to top 

Eric Cobb of Santa Ynez, California is the first to say that "any flying day is a good day" — but the one pictured here looks particularly good. Lots of great photos in our submission box this week! So many, in fact, that we're having a hard time making a final decision on which ones make it into the top slots — and since we're running down the clock on our deadline, we're going to settle on these five. But honestly, folks — you do not want to miss this week's bonus pics. We'll remind you again below the fifth pic, but if you enjoy this feature at all, please don't miss the extra photos we've loaded into this week's slideshow on the AVweb home page. More...

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.