AVwebFlash - Volume 15, Number 51a

December 21, 2009

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Hangar Fire Irony back to top 
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Airport firefighters in Prince George, British Columbia, say there was nothing they could do but watch as fire took hold in a 70-year-old wood frame hangar as they waited for city firefighters to arrive to battle the blaze. By the time the city crews traveled the 10 miles from their hall (some witnesses said it took about 25 minutes), there wasn't much hope of saving the historic former military hangar, which served as the local headquarters for Northern Thunderbird Air, a scheduled, charter and medevac airline. Eight aircraft, much of the airline's fleet, were safely moved outside before the fire consumed the building. Airport Fire Chief Dan Moulder told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that his crew followed long-established protocol. "Our concern is the airport itself. We look after the aviation side, the city looks after the structures," Moulder said. Although the aircraft were saved, the fire has disrupted operations by the airline and the airport itself.

In a note on its Web site, Northern Thunderbird apologized for inconvenience caused by disruption of service. Northern Thunderbird General Manager Bill Hesse said the airline should resume full service Monday but it could have been much different without the effort by staff to save the airplanes. "In pretty short order, they got all of our aircraft, some of our parts and engines on the floor, and all their tool boxes moved out," Hesse told CTV News. "I just want to thank the people that stayed calm and really rescued some really important assets for us," Hesse said. "A couple of those not making it would have changed the whole outcome." Meanwhile, the fire also caused minor delays for aircraft operating out of the airport as firefighters continued to douse hotspots on Sunday. No cause has been determined but an electrical fault is suspected.

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Employers, Professionals Eye 787 Opportunities back to top 

Boeing 787 Byproduct, Dreamliner Supplier Jobs

Following the Dreamliner's successful Dec. 15 first flight, at least 100 local parts suppliers are waiting for production to ramp up for Boeing's 787 so they can start putting people to work, and there are more outside of the state. Boeing's 840 orders for the 787 represent a record backlog and while testing is ongoing and first deliveries aren't expected until the end of 2010, that doesn't mean the company isn't already building the jets. Boeing has already sent 10 of its 787 Dreamliners down the production line and is shooting for 10 per month by 2012. Literally hundreds of companies (329 are noted by Airframer.com) are involved in the big jet program and that means the long-delayed return on the investments in equipment and training at many of those companies is soon going to translate into jobs.

The Web site Airframer.com lists suppliers. Boeing said Tuesday that it intends to deliver the first 787 to All Nippon Airways of Japan.

What He Didn't Know About His Life Insurance Cost His Family $500,000
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South Korean Space Transport Lined Up back to top 

XCOR To Supply Suborbital Lynx To S. Korea

XCOR Aerospace's Lynx Mark II suborbital vehicle has been selected by the Republic of Korea and will serve there, pending what may be the first export licensing approval process performed by the U.S. for such a vehicle. XCOR's announcement, Thursday, said the company plans to supply the Yecheon Astro Space Center with suborbital launch services through a "wet lease." That means the company will likely be providing personnel, maintenance and insurance for the Lynx. It will cost Yecheon roughly $30 million. Yecheon operates as a non-profit entity, providing space-related activities that include aerospace training and a commercial space camp, and said it was attracted by the Lynx's reusability, reliable propulsion, turnaround time and costs. XCOR CEO Jeff Greason says the transaction is an opportunity "to set an example of responsible international commerce in space transportation." But before the vehicle can be supplied, substantial logistics must be choreographed.

XCOR will be working with agencies including the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and U.S. department of State, and has engaged specialized consultants and legal counsel to assist in the one-of-a-kind effort. The company hopes that successful completion of the deal may help chart the course for other similarly minded U.S. companies to export technologically intensive services.

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Air Travel in Trouble? back to top 

ICAO: Airline Passenger Traffic Sees Record Drop

The International Civil Aviation Organization has announced that preliminary figures for air travel during 2009 show that one localized spike was no match for a worldwide decline in airline passenger traffic that could represent the largest drop-off in aviation history. International traffic declined by nearly 4 percent worldwide, while domestic traffic fell about 1.8 percent on average, according to ICAO. Asia and Latin America managed strong domestic passenger traffic growth and North America's budget carriers helped hold traffic declines to a minimum. But all major geographic areas, except one, showed a decline in total (domestic and international, combined) number. The one area that showed an increase in total passenger traffic was the Middle East, which chimed in with a 10 percent overall increase. ICAO's forecast for future trends doesn't shine quite that bright, but it is positive.

For 2011, ICAO predicts that airline passenger traffic should return to a more traditional 5.5 percent annual growth rate, following a 3.3 percent improvement in 2010. The current year-over-year decline is the industry's representation of a 1-percent drop in the world's 2009 gross domestic product, according to ICAO.

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News Briefs back to top 

Bill Lear Jr. Dead At 81

Bill Lear, son of William P. Lear, legendary designer and developer of the Learjet business jet, died at the age of 81 Dec. 14, reports the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Lear Jr.'s life is detailed in his autobiography, "Fly Fast...Sin Boldly -- Flying, Spying and Surviving." Spanning a lifetime of aviation, Lear began flying at age 15. In 1946, then 17-year-old Lear Jr. borrowed $1250 from his father, purchased a brand new Lockheed P-38 from the War Assets Administration and soon became the youngest pilot to race the aircraft in the Bendix Trophy races. He never graduated high school, but eventually worked as president of Learjet International. He served three years of active duty with the United States Air Force in Germany and wrote later that he was also involved in covert gun running designed to undermine Soviet activities during the Cold War. Most recently before his death, Lear blogged on current political issues. In 2006, he passed judgment on the very light jets of the day in an early AVweb podcast.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal quotes friends of lear who say he was a very hard worker but a man who made serious work of play and lived life with gusto. "He had the twinkle in his eye of Santa Claus," one friend said. What appears to be the blog of William P. Lear Jr. is available online, here.

Stalls Still The Killer They've Always Been

Although the industry has made progress in making light aircraft safer, stalls or stall/spins continue to be a major factor in fatal accidents, according to recent research done by Aviation Safety magazine. In its review of 338 fatal accidents, the magazine found that 18% were due to stall-related factors, and the true percentage may be even higher. Many of these occur in the traffic pattern at low altitudes, and to illustrate this, AVweb has prepared this dramatic video re-creating a Cirrus stall accident in 2008.

As part of its detailed coverage in the January 2010 issue of Aviation Safety, the editors also interviewed John King and Rich Stowell, two veteran flight instructors who discuss the stall and spin training. Listen to the podcast.

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News Briefs back to top 

Rose Pelton Takes First Skycatcher

Cessna has delivered its first Light Sport Aircraft model 162 Skycatcher to Rose Pelton, the wife of Cessna president and CEO Jack Pelton, Dec. 18. The first delivery was announced at AOPA Summit 2009 in Tampa in November. The company held a ceremony Friday at Yingling Aircraft in Wichita, Kan., which is one of three U.S. re-assembly facilities (much of the airframe is made in China) for the aircraft. Cessna says it has gathered more than 1,000 orders for the Skycatcher since the program was announced in 2007 at AirVenture Oshkosh. The company, together with King Schools, has developed a Web-based training system for sport and private certificates that will be available through the Cessna Pilot Center network.

The Skycatcher is Cessna's answer to the Light Sport Aircraft rules and fits within the restrictions that hold it to a 1320-pound gross weight and a 120-knot top speed. The aircraft is powered by a 100-hp Continental 0-200D that drives a fixed-pitch propeller. It has a maximum range of 470 nautical miles and is available with a split-screen Garmin G300 avionics package. The aircraft is built to be both day and night VFR capable. Pricing is currently set near $110,000.

Spirit Of The Season: Zambian Boy Gets First Flight

Joseph Banda, a 13-year-old boy living in a Zambian ghetto, took his first flying lesson recently thanks to the generosity of patrons of the BBC. Edmond Farmer, a flying instructor in Zambia, was paid by a BBC listener to give Banda his first flying lesson, the BBC reported Thursday. Other listeners are organizing a fund for the well-spoken boy's education. Banda was introduced to the public in a September BBC audio feature in which he described his life growing up in a hometown that suffers from severe unemployment, unsanitary conditions, drugs and disease. In that piece he also described his dream of becoming a pilot. Touched listeners then reached out to the BBC to help Joseph realize at least part of his dream. Click through for a link to the BBC's audio.

Banda lives in Chibolya, one of the most depressed parts of Zambia's capital, Lusaka, according to the BBC. "Locals nickname it Baghdad because of the violence and drugs trade that flourishes there," the news service reported. You can hear Banda in his own words, here.

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

AVmail: December 21, 2009

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Crew Qualifications

The proposed requirement for a 1500-hour minimum is another example of non-aviators attempting to "fix" what they do not understand. Is experience vital to success in the cockpit? Absolutely, but without proper training and currency, experience (minimum hours) can turn into an exercise of boring holes in the sky to fill an artificial requirement.

I've been active as a flight instructor for over 20 years teaching civilian to military, basic to advanced flight training. Quality of training [and] getting good habit patterns and procedures established early outweighs mere hours burned in the sky. I instruct at one of the USAF Aero Clubs and fly from the same runway as F-22 Raptors and C-17 Globemasters. In my younger days I had the privilege of being a weapons systems officer on the F-4 Phantom. Then, as now, the younger pilots were often folks with barely 300 hours of total flying time. 300 hours of total flying time and PIC of an aircraft capable of Mach 2+ and the ability to establish air supremacy in a war zone! How is that possible? Simple: Quality of training, recency of experience (competency and proficiency) and proactive supervision.

While the phrase "there is no substitute for experience" sounds great, in reality, proper training and proficiency can go a long way to bridging any gaps in experience. In my career as an instructor I can identify numerous pilots with relatively little total flying time that I would trust my family with before I would let those same family members fly with other pilots who had much higher total flight times.

If the goal is to "fix the problem" with 121 operators, the effort should go into proper training and proficiency along with supervisory requirements. As an outsider looking in (through media sources, so information could be flawed) it looks like the Colgan Dash-8 crash could possibly have been prevented through better training and supervision by both the company and the FAA.

A related point: As a group, we need to educate our elected officials before the FAA regulations get turned into air law (like some other countries) controlled by Congress. If you think the regulations are tough, take a look at what happens in countries that have their flying controlled by law.

R. G. Preston

Both pilots in all two-pilot crew 121 and 135 operations should be ATP- and type-rated. Period.

Jim Lockridge

NAFI has a vested interest in their point. They have plenty of members just biding their time to reach an airline cockpit. Frequently the result is poor training. Probably the safest system the airlines have had was the three-pilot crew. Watching others deal with the unexpected challenges of real flight situations is irreplaceable. Judgment is essential to safe long-term performance as a pilot. It doesn't develop in a few hundred hours of scrambling to build time, especially in the right seat of a primary trainer.

Mark Higbee

Although I agree that adequate training is essential for every pilot, nothing is more important than good aeronautical decision-making skills. Only experience can hone that ability. 1500 hours will go a long way to make that happen.

Bob Sutherlin

Error Noted

The [original] article reporting on the Families of Continental Flight 3407 seems to have a glaring error. Or maybe I read it wrong. On the 3407 Memorial web site, the Remaining Challenges states:

(1) Legislation requiring that all commercial airline pilots possess an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) license prior to being hired. Currently, a pilot can be hired as a first officer by an airline with a Commercial Pilot License (CPL), with as little as 250 flight hours. Requiring an ATP license would ensure not only additional flying experience (1,500 flight hours), but also would carry greater qualitative requirements for flying in instrument conditions, cross country, and at night, as well as additional check flight and academic testing requirements. It would ensure that passengers flying on regional and major airlines would receive one level of safety in terms of pilot qualifications.

It doesn't say anything about the Commercial rating needing 1500 hours.

Am I misreading this stuff?

Chris Field

AVweb Replies:

No, you didn't misread anything, Chris — but we did. Thanks to you and other readers who pointed it out, we were able to fix the mistake quickly.

Russ Niles

No Certification Required

A recent letter to the editor questions the certification of civilian spacecraft that will be carrying space tourists. The federal statutory scheme for regulating civilian space flight, such as the tourist flights planned by Branson and others, does not require certification of the spacecraft by the FAA. There are strict requirements for licensing launch and reentry facilities, but no spacecraft certification requirement. There are also strict "informed consent" requirements for the passengers, who are also required to sign waivers of liability.

Jerry Trachtman

Lightning Radiation

There must be something wrong with the newly-promoted radiation hypothesis regarding aircraft lightning strikes. My dad began flying with American Airlines in 1935. He moved up from Curtiss Condors and Stinson Trimotors into the revered DC-3 when it came along. For more than 15 years he flew the DC-3, DC-4 and DC-6 into and out of thunderstorms without the benefit of airborne weather radar.

I flew the DC-3, DC-4 and Vickers Viscount with Capital Airlines for several years prior to getting airborne weather radar installed. In those days we would penetrate numerous thunderstorms as a matter of course. I can't recall the number of lightning strikes and static discharges that ensued. Obviously, my father encountered even more. I recall many of his stories concerning thunderstorm penetrations. "In a thunderstorm, fly toward the lighter shades of gray," was one of his caveats. (Radar later proved this to be a useless strategy.)

If ten rem of radiation exposure is considered to be the amount of radiation collected from one lightning strike, and it is also considered to be the maximum amount in a person's lifetime, then Dad and I both certainly should have succumbed to the effects of excess radiation many, many years ago. In addition, there are any number of my fellow pilots still around who, like me, penetrated thunderstorms in years gone by on a routine basis prior to enjoying the benefits of airborne radar.

It might be an interesting hypothesis to some, but there are just too many of us surviving live specimens who only serve to thwart the validity of this new life-threatening "10 rem" lightning-strike theory.

Carl B. Jordan

A CT scan of the chest is also equivalent in radiation exposure to approximately 300 chest x-rays, a fact little publicized and even unknown in general medical circles. Many people have had several done in their lifetimes.

Martin Dixon, M.D.

Remote Control War

The unease that I have with remote control warfare is not quite the way Alan Tipps puts it. It's not that it's fair or unfair — it's that it makes errors, or even crimes, easy and penalty-free.

For many years — certainly since World War II — soldiers, sailors or flyers have been able to shoot from a great distance, or bomb from a great height, people they never see. That's a lot safer for our side, and it avoids the stress of seeing the results close up. And it makes errors more likely, and makes those errors easier to ignore. Remote control is just one more step. Why not?

With a drone, some guy in Syracuse, N.Y., can go to the office, shoot up a group of people in Afghanistan or bomb a house as easily as swatting a few bugs, then at the end of his shift he can go peacefully home to his family, just like any other U.S. office worker. If that group of people happens to be an innocent wedding party, or if that house happens to contain ten children - well (shrug), it's war, ain't it?

I know that there are people who think that what I've said here is un-American or even treasonous. Maybe those people are comfortable with reducing the killing of real, live, maybe innocent people to the level of a video game. Maybe those people are also comfortable with doing to far-away foreigners things that we don't dare do within the U.S. to U.S. citizens. I'm not.

John Stanning

History Lesson

Regarding the story about the mass arrival of DC-3s at next year's AirVenture, the Douglas Long Beach, CA plant wasn't built when the DC-3 first flew At Santa Monica, CA.

Tom Bohman

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

Aviation Consumer Survey: Portable GPS Performance

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.)

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

Exclusive Video: Aviation Safety Dissects the Anatomy of a Cirrus Stall Accident

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

So-called over-the-top or cross-control stall accidents have been common among general aviation pilots for years. But no one has ever really documented what happens in one — until now. Thanks the widespread use of glass cockpits, this fatal stall accident has been extraordinarily well-documented by accident investigators and includes a video re-creation. Aviation Safety magazine walks you through the accident in this video.

Related Content:
As part of its detailed coverage in the January 2010 issue of Aviation Safety, the editors also interviewed John King and Rich Stowell, two veteran flight instructors who discuss the stall and spin training. Listen to the podcast.

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

Aviation Safety Investigates the State of Spin Training with John King and Rich Stowell

File Size 17.1 MB / Running Time 16:41

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

As part of its detailed coverage in the January 2010 issue, the editors of Aviation Safety interview veteran flight instructors John King and Rich Stowell about the state of stall and spin training.

To read the full article — and others like it — subscribe to Aviation Safety.

Click here to listen. (17.1 MB, 16:41)

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Also on AVweb back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: The Pilot Experience Conundrum

AVweb's Paul Bertorelli comments on the proposed 1,500-hour requirement in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog. "If nothing else," he says, "we are shockingly predictable in our reaction."

Read the full blog and add your own comments.

Exclusive Video: IFR Magazine Discovers How Cape Air Trains It Pilots

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

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.

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

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Thomaston-Upson County Regional Airport (OPN, Thomaston, Georgia)

Nominate an FBO | Rules | Tips | Questions | Winning FBOs

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Thomaston-Upson County Regional Airport (OPN) in Thomaston, Georgia.

AVweb reader Kenneth Breier told us about the FBO and its stellar services, including a courtesy SUV, jump school, long runway, great fuel prices, and brand-new facilities — not to mention great service from the folks who work there.

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 Flight back to top 

Short Final

Years ago, when there were flight service stations:

TriPacer 3438A:
"Chicago area radio, this is TriPacer 3438A requesting a practice DF steer to Joliet."

"38A, we are very busy now and unable a to provide a practice steer. We can only respond to a lost aircraft."

[pregnant pause]

TriPacer 3438A:
"O.K. 38A will take one of those."

Grant Besley
via e-mail

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

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.