AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 5a

February 1, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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 CessnaRise.com.
After Sebring: The FAA, Regs, and the Future back to top 

FAA Final Rule Alters Sport Pilot Regulations

The FAA has withdrawn or modified certain language that defines the certification of aircraft and airmen for the operation of light sport aircraft. In the final rule, the FAA has modified one proposal first listed in the 2008 NPRM and eliminated eight others. The FAA has chosen not to replace sport pilot privileges with aircraft category and class ratings on all pilot certificates. Similarly, the FAA has withdrawn a proposal to replace sport pilot flight instructor privileges with aircraft category ratings on flight instructor certificates. And sport pilot flight instructors will not be required to log 5 hours of flight time in a make and model of light sport aircraft before providing training in same. And for those student pilots and sport pilots seeking to operate an airplane with a maximum calibrated airspeed of greater than 87 knots, the FAA will require one hour of flight training under the hood. Of 22 proposals contained in the 2008 NPRM, 14 remain (including the aforementioned modified proposal).

Interested parties should read the full details of the final rule for themselves. The changes will update prior regulations implemented in 2004. The FAA says it received about 150 comments on the NPRM, the bulk of which were from individual pilots and flight instructors. It also saw formal comments from the EAA, AOPA, NAFI, and the U.S. Ultralight Association.

FAA Announces Public Meetings For Part 23 Review

The FAA plans to host open meetings, the results of which "will affect the next 20 years of small airplane design, certification, and operations," according to the agency. The plan is to use public input to help determine how well the current airworthiness standards work through the course of an aircraft's service life and with respect to anticipated future requirements. "Many previous assumptions for small airplanes are no longer accurate," says the FAA. The agency would now like to consider requirements based on airplane performance and complexity instead of the previous approach that has until now been based on propulsion and weight, according to the FAA. The FAA is encouraging public participation. "We would like feedback from manufacturers, pilots, owners, mechanics, instructors and anyone else with an interest in the small airplane industry," says the FAA. Dates, times, and details after the jump.

The first meetings will be held Feb. 23 and 24 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Marriott, 9100 Corporate Hills Drive, Wichita, Kan., 67207. Space is limited, so all interested parties should notify the FAA's Lowell Foster via phone at (816) 329-4125 or by e-mail at lowell.foster@faa.gov . Each meeting's starting point will be a discussion of findings from a previous study. The FAA says that at least three two-day meetings will be held, with more to be scheduled as needed to match interest.

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State of the Skies back to top 

First Official Meeting, Senate GA Caucus

The first official meeting of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, co-chaired by Senators Mark Begich (an Alaska Democrat) and Mike Johanns (a Nebraska Republican) took place Thursday, Jan. 28, composed of 23 members. The meeting addressed the role that GA serves in the U.S., and how the concerns of the GA community could be elevated in the Senate. The Senate Caucus was founded in September. Its members will seek to serve as a platform for bipartisan action on issues important to the GA community. Specifically, "The goal of the Senate General Aviation Caucus is to work with pilots, aircraft owners, the aviation industry, and relevant government agencies to insure a safe and vibrant environment exists for General Aviation (GA) in America," according to Begich's Web site. The House General Aviation Caucus, formed last year with assistance and urging from AOPA, held its first meeting in May. GA advocacy groups support the organization of the caucuses as a better-organized vehicle to advance their concerns. The caucuses so far hold more than 100 members on their rosters.

Said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, "The continued growth of these caucuses underscores the recognition by Congress that general aviation creates jobs, provides a transportation lifeline to communities across the country, helps businesses succeed and supports people and communities in times of crisis." NBAA has compiled a list of active General Aviation Caucus members listed by state for both the House and Senate. It is available here.

Alaska Airport's Stimulus Funding Attracts Attention

With a recent focus on funds spent under President Obama's stimulus package, CNN Friday highlighted a $14.7 million runway project currently under way in Ouzinkie, Alaska, population 200. The town is located on a smaller island adjacent to Kodiak Island, south of mainland Alaska. According to CNN, the runway project was going to happen anyway, stimulus money or not. FAA funding had been slated for the project; the stimulus package just identified it as shovel-ready. But the project's attachment to the Obama administration's stimulus package may have added controversy. An opinion written by a contributor to the Alaska Standard detailed the project in a Dec. 31 article titled, "The Ouzinkie airstrip boondoggle." In it, author Mike Dingman writes, "this is just one example of Obama stimulus funds gone awry."

According to CNN, from a stimulus/jobs creation standpoint, only about 46 temporary jobs have been created by the project. But, CNN noted, more than 120 companies are benefiting from the trickle down, through materials and services. Ouzinkie currently operates a 2085 x 80-foot runway that (due in part to its size) ends just shy of Marmot Bay and is not available during weather conditions the area experiences through much of the year. That runway "does not meet minimum design standards for runway length, runway width, runway safety areas, and runway lighting and is being actively eroded by the ocean," according to the Alaska DOT. And it's close to a bird-seducing garbage dump, says CNN. When finished, the new larger runway will operate 1.7 miles away and supplement the existing runway, which will continue to operate when conditions permit.

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Emergency Call Looking More Like a Prank back to top 

FAA Says Handheld Used In Fake Crash Call

The FAA now believes a radio call from someone who claimed to be a passenger aboard a small plane that (he alleged) impacted mountains near Stanford University actually originated from a handheld transceiver in a downtown neighborhood, according to a local ABC affiliate. ABC7 of San Francisco says their source heard a recording of the 30-minute call between the alleged passenger and controllers. That call last Saturday initiated a three-county-wide search and rescue mission that ultimately involved "nine different law enforcement, fire and rescue agencies," and included a request for assistance from the Civil Air Patrol. It also, as a matter of course, delayed or interrupted some routine radio communications. ABC7's source said the caller identified himself as Mike Henderson and stated he had a broken leg and his pilot was unconscious. The man said the two had departed South County Airport for a tour of the Bay Area and had crashed in the mountains. The search was called off midday, Sunday, and the FAA has isolated the origin of the call to downtown Los Altos.

The FAA believes the caller used a handheld transceiver. The ABC news story included comment from aviation consultant Ron Wilson. Wilson said the event should raise concerns that a criminal "could actually communicate with the pilot of an aircraft, say on approach to San Francisco, if they knew the frequency and it's not hard to find out, and give the pilot instructions that could cause that pilot to make a turn in front of another airplane, for instance." First responders remain on standby, just in case further evidence presents itself of a real emergency, while others begin tallying the cost of the search in time and resources.

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T-50 Takes Flight back to top 

Sukhoi T-50 First Flight

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Russia flew a prototype of its new Sukhoi T-50 fighter on Friday. The aircraft is said to be the first fighter jet designed and built in post-Soviet Russia, albeit with help from India. The unique twin-engine, all-weather, low-visibility, stealthy "fifth-generation" fighter is expected to be capable of extended supersonic flight. Its design is said to have been determined "taking into account the F-22's capabilities, merits and drawbacks," according to RIA Novosti. Having won a design contest in 2002, the Russian jet was expected to fly first in 2007. With Friday's first flight, testing is expected to continue over the next five to six years. According to Russian military commentator Ilya Kramnik, the T-50 compares with aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, developed from the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. The Russian jets are expected to "replace the Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighters currently serving with the Indian Air Force, in the 2020s and the 2030s. Moreover, it is likely they will be mass-produced in India," as well as Komsomolsk-on-Amur (far south-eastern Russia), beginning as early as 2015.

According to RIA Novasti, the Russian T-50 was designed to include: "greater agility, sustained supersonic-flight capability in non-afterburning mode, low radar visibility, low heat signature, as well as enhanced take-off and landing performance." The T-50's specifications remain classified, but Russian sources believe it will have a takeoff weight of more than 30 metric tons and is close in dimension to the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. It is said to be fitted with Russian Saturn 117S turbofan engines. Short-field abilities may include the ability to take off from a 1000-foot runway and the jet is expected to have a range of about 5,500 kilometers.

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Going for the Record back to top 

Tibet's Nagqu Airport To Become "World's Highest"

China has plans to build almost 100 new airports by 2020 and one of them planned for completion in 2014, Nagqu Dagring Airport, may claim the title of highest airport in the world. The Tibetan Branch of the China Civil Aviation Administration says the airport's construction will begin in 2011 at Nagqu prefecture in Tibet and sit at an altitude of 4,436 meters (about 14,553 feet, or about 2.75 miles above sea level). Tibet may hold the current "highest commercial airport" title with its Bamda Airport, which sits at 4,334 meters (about 14,219 feet) and hosts an 18,000-foot runway. The landing altitude is obviously well above the 6,000- to 8,000-foot cabin pressure altitudes set by many commercial airlines and business jets. Details about the coming Nagqu airport runway are scarce, but one official said the airport itself will cover an area of about 245 hectares, which is about 0.94 square miles, and construction costs could range near $263 million.

China's push for airports is intended to put 80 percent of its population within a 90-minute drive of an airport. Nagqu will be located near the Qinghai-Tibet railway line. Some 400,000 people live in Nagqu. The airport, plus six new rail lines connecting to Beijing, is expected to drive the region's economic growth. Most of Tibet's land sits some 16,000 feet above sea level. China hopes to develop direct air routes from Tibet to neighboring countries.

Two Men, One Cessna, 65 Days Aloft -- Nonstop

Chet and Matt Pipkin plan to set a new record for time aloft in an airplane, a record that currently sits at 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and five seconds, according to the men. The record was set in a Cessna 172, and the Pipkins intend to beat it in a (modified) 172 ... this time with a video feed and Wi-Fi. Like the current record holders, Robert Timm and John Cook, who set the mark between Dec. 4, 1958, and Feb. 7, 1959, the Pipkins plan to refuel via low-level flyby, transferring fuel from a truck. Timm and Cook managed that over long straight flat roads in the Mojave desert until their plane's engine had deteriorated to the point where they could no longer climb away. Chet and Matt Pipkin plan to modify their engine with plumbing to allow for in-flight oil changes. As for their own essential fluids and waste, that too will be passed between the ground vehicle and aircraft. "This project is ridiculous," the men admit. "In fact, that is why we love it." But it does have a serious side -- the men hope to raise money for charity.

"It could create a huge opportunity to contribute so some great causes, and also inspire people to go do crazy things for the sake of living exciting, purposeful lives," the men wrote on their blog. The sentiments have come a long way from Matt Pipkin's first impression that the flight was "the dumbest idea he had ever heard." Target date for liftoff is Oct. 1, 2010, from Boise, Idaho.

Related Content:
Podcast interview with Matt Pipkin

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Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversary back to top 

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... Now's Your Chance to Win 100,000 Air BP Bravo Reward Points

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Now's your chance to win 100,000 Air BP Bravo Rewards Points as we celebrate our 15th Anniversary! All you have to do is click here to enter your name and e-mail address. (You only have to enter once, and you'll be entered in our prize drawings for the entire year. If you've already entered for the previous Bose Headset drawing, you're all set — no need to register again.)

And no, we're not going to rent or sell your name, ever. Tell your friends, and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can qualify for our 15 Grand Giveaways prize drawings, too. (We won't spam them, either — but we hope they will sign up for our newsletters.)

Deadline for entries is 11:59pm Zulu time February 19, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

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

65 Days Aloft? In a C-172? Matt and Chet Pipkin Go for the Record

File Size 7.0 MB / Running Time 7:02

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It's been a little more than 50 years since anyone tried to break one of the most bizarre aviation endurance records. Matt Pipkin and his father Chet are aiming to try next October by keeping a Cessna 172 in the air for 65 days straight. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Matt Pipkin about the attempt and how it will benefit others.

Click here to listen. (7.0 MB, 7:02)

Exclusive Video: Rotax Engine Essentials

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What's special about preflighting the Rotax engines found on most LSAs? Tim Brooks, Director of Maintenance for Heart of Virginia Aviation, takes you on a just-the-facts tour explaining what you're looking for and why it's important.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Haiti — Should We Stay, Or Should We Go?

You want to help the Haitian evacuation and recovery efforts, but can you do more good by flying to the Caribbean or by staying home and sending cash?

Mary Grady tackles the question in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

AVweb Insider Blog: iHype — Will the iPad Be a Killer Plate Reader?

AVweb's Paul Bertorelli believes that's a distinct possibility — but since he's a little too busy to start writing apps for a device he hasn't seen yet, he's cooling his heels and waiting for the iPad to change the way he uses plates and charts.

In the meantime, you can read his thoughts and post your own at the AVweb Insider blog.

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

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.

Had an Engine Overhaul? Aviation Consumer Wants to Hear About Your Experience

Aviation Consumer is conducting a survey to hear your experiences with engine overhaul shops. Whether the experience was propulsion bliss or aggravation of a new order, please take a couple minutes to let others know how it went. Your response will help inform an article on engine shops for Aviation Consumer magazine.

Click here to participate.

(The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.)

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: StarPort USA (Sanford, Florida)

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

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AVweb reader Charles "Doc" Truthan told us how StarPort USA at the Orlando-Sanford International Airport (KSFB) is "providing fuel at cost to pilots with Angel Flight Southeast/Mercy Flight Southeast who are flying Haitian refugees ... to their Florida destinations." But that's not all:

[T]hey are [also] delivering the fuel to the aircraft at the terminal gate we are operating from, so the pilot does not have to spend time and fuel taxiing between the FBO and the pickup gate.

For their "outstanding service and American spirit," StarPort is our latest "FBO of the Week."

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

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

One rainy evening in the L.A. basin, SoCal approach was trying to merge a bunch of traffic with wildly different airspeeds onto V23 southbound:

"Cessna Eight Eight Tango, what's your best airspeed?"

Cessna 88T:
"One hundred ten knots."

SoCal (gloomy) :

Cessna 88T:
"Don't be disappointed. It just means we'll get to spend more time together."

"Well, if you like me so much, Cessna Eight Eight Tango, turn left heading 090-a 360 for spacing."

Jeffery Westbrook
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.

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