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Pilots who are still carrying old paper FAA airmen certificates need to have them replaced with the new plastic card versions by the end of March. On March 31, the old certificates will expire. The
only exceptions are temporary certificates and student certificates, which will remain valid until their expiration date. The fee for most pilots to make the change is $2, but if you also ask to
change to a new identification number that is not your Social Security number, the fee is waived. Processing by mail can take four to six weeks, so the deadline is approaching fast. Requests filed
online take 7 to 10 days. All the necessary info can be found on the FAA Web site.
Also, students taking an FAA knowledge test could be assessed an extra $50 fee starting as soon as March 1, AOPA said recently. AOPA, EAA, and other advocacy groups have asked the testing service and the FAA to re-evaluate the need for the fee and either delay or scrap it. But if you are
close to ready to take an exam, it might not hurt to take it ASAP just in case.
AOPA said the starting date for the proposed testing fee is unclear -- they were told it would start April 1, but some testing centers have been told to expect it to start on March 1. The testing
services, Computer Assisted Testing Service and LaserGrade, told AOPA the fee would cover the costs of transitioning to a new standards-authorization system required by the FAA that would require them
to expand their oversight and training programs at testing sites.
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Experiments by scientists at the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are moving forward quickly and could be producing jet fuel from algae at competitive prices by next
year, the UK Guardian reported this week. "The claim ... has taken industry insiders
by surprise," according to the news story. DARPA researchers have already produced oil from algae in ponds at a cost of about $2 per gallon, and could be mass-producing as much as 50 million gallons a
year in 2011. DARPA is funding the research to find an algae-based alternative to the petroleum-derived JP-8 fuel used by the Air Force. If an inexpensive fuel alternative is possible, it will be
considered for Army vehicles as well.
DARPA spokeswoman Jan Walker told America.gov last year that algae offer the
advantage of growing easily in a lot of different places. All algae needs to grow rapidly is light, carbon dioxide and water -- even salty water or wastewater will do.
You'd think there would be plenty of airspace to go around in North Dakota, one of the most sparsely inhabited states in the U.S., but pilots there are protesting a plan to create some large new
restricted areas near Grand Forks that would enable the military to operate unmanned aerial vehicles there. Hearings held last week drew about 150 people, and many aviators expressed concern over the
proposal. Paul Hanson, president of the North Dakota Pilots Association, asked Air Force officials to limit the restricted airspace as much as possible, according to the Grand Forks Herald. Doug Albright, a member of the Air Force team working on
the Environmental Impact Statement, said the USAF is proposing a new way of restricting the airspace, in three layers. The bottom layer would be from 6,000 to 10,000 feet MSL, a second layer to 14,000
feet, and a third layer to 18,000. When one section was being used by a UAV, civilian aircraft could still freely use the other two levels, he said. The three proposed areas each cover chunks of
airspace about 40 by 50 miles. Several transit areas are also proposed.
The Air Force has published its draft Environmental Impact Statement online. Comments will be accepted until March 1. During an
earlier draft of the North Dakota proposal, AOPA said creating large restricted areas to segregate UAVs is not the best way to ensure safety. "We have concerns about any plan that would close airspace
to civilian traffic so [UAVs] can fly," said Pete Lehmann, AOPA manager of air traffic services, in November 2008.
"Surveys have shown that 77 percent of our members, or more than half the U.S. pilot population, would rather fly with certified unmanned aircraft rather than be subject to flight restrictions." The
current USAF proposal offers several alternative scenarios for how the areas would be implemented, some of which would affect up to 120 civilian aircraft operations per day.
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The last of the original Twin Otters flew off from the de Havilland factory back in 1988, but this week a new version, produced by Viking Air
in Canada, flew for the first time. "Flying the first new Twin Otter in 22 years is the culmination of many months of hard work and determination by our staff and supply-chain partners," said
Viking CEO David Curtis. He crewed on the first flight, along with Steve Stackhouse, manager of flight operations. "The aircraft performed exactly as expected," Curtis said. "It felt very stable,
fast, and even with my thousands of hours on type, this new Series 400 Twin Otter brought a smile to my face." The airplane is equipped with Honeywell's Primus Apex IFR digital flight deck and
configured with a commuter interior. It will be flown by Zimex Aviation, of Switzerland, throughout North Africa to service the oil and gas industry.
Viking acquired the type certificate from de Havilland and announced it would re-launch a modernized Twin Otter back in March 2007. The new DHC-6 Series 400 model features more than 400
modifications and improvements, with a modernized flight deck and added safety systems. Two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-34 turbines power the aircraft. Canadian certification is imminent, the company said
this week, and first customer deliveries should start soon. Ten airplanes are now in production, with a projected build rate of about 20 airplanes per year. AVweb's editorial director Paul
Bertorelli spoke with Curtis about his plans back in October 2008 and took a look at their demo airplane; click here for the video.
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As of Tuesday, the Tulsa Air and Rocket Racing Show is scheduled for April 24 at the Tulsa International Airport. Rocket racing came out most publicly, loud fiery and fast, at AirVenture Oshkosh,
back in 2008 (see our July 29, 2008 introductory video here) where early demonstration
aircraft flew solo for the crowd. Tuesday, Tulsa's NewsOn6 reported that it had "learned Tulsa will be the first
location for a race" but also wrote that the Tulsa Air and Space Museum "would not confirm the report." What the museum did confirm is that the April 24 event will "unveil a lot of new technology" and
"some capability that the Rocket racing league will show publicly for the first time." As for the Rocket Racing League, its latest press release states that the city will host an "inaugural QuickTrip
Air & Rocket Racing show."
The Rocket Racing League plans to feature multiple races across the country, featuring as many as 10 aircraft flying four-lap heats on a five-mile closed circuit. So far, just six teams are
featured on the League's Web site. The League rolled out with Mark-1 Rocker Racers, a highly modified Velocity XL
FG airframe produced by Velocity, Inc.. Those aircraft were powered by a 2,000-plus pound thrust liquid oxygen and ethanol engine (a
product of Armadillo Aerospace). But in late 2009, the League began testing the Mark-II X-Racer, which may be
featured at the Tulsa event. Racers are guided through the track by in-panel and in-helmet 3D race course presentations and are tracked in real time on large projection screens. Those and other feeds
will also go out online and via television, according to the League, so that fans can watch from their homes around the world.
The Doolittle Raiders Reunion, set for April 16 to 18 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, is sure to be a
memorable event, and now the folks who fly the Pacific Prowler B-25 are offering a chance to ride along with them on their flight to Dayton, Ohio. The Prowler, operated by a nonprofit group based at
the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, was built in 1944 at North American's Kansas City plant and joined the Army Air Force in 1945. The airplane has been featured in about 80 Hollywood
films, including Memphis Belle, Flight of the Phoenix, and Catch 22. "The Pacific Prowler is one of the most stunning B-25s flying today," according to the group's news release.
For more information about the available seats, offered on a cost-sharing basis, contact the group via their Web site.
The Doolittle Raiders Reunion will commemorate the historic attack on Japan by B-25s launched from the deck of the USS Hornet in April 1942. About 25 of the airplanes and all of the surviving
pilots and crews have been invited to participate in the event. The full schedule of events, most of which are free to the public, is posted on the museum Web site. If all 25 of the invited airplanes are able to be there, it would be the largest gathering of B-25s since World War
II. Seats in the Pacific Prowler are also available for the return flight from Dayton to Fort Worth.
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The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced on
Tuesday that 2009 worldwide shipments and billings of general aviation airplanes were down in all categories. GAMA Chairman Rob Wilson, president of Honeywell Business and General Aviation, said
it was one of the toughest years ever for GA manufacturers. "The worldwide economic crisis, which included major constraints on credit, cutbacks in flying hours, and downsizing and divestiture of
business jet fleets, forced manufacturers to take difficult steps in 2009," Wilson said, at the annual industry review and market outlook briefing, held in Washington, D.C . "General aviation
manufacturers had no choice but to cut production and announce painful layoffs and furloughs," he said. Industry billings dipped to $19.5 billion, a 21.4 percent decrease from the 2008 record high of
$24.8 billion, but still the third highest year ever. Worldwide shipments of GA airplanes declined for a second year in a row with a total of 2,276 units delivered, a 42.6-percent decrease over the
2008 total of 3,967 airplanes. The piston airplane segment experienced the greatest decline at 54.5 percent. Shipments totaled 965 piston airplanes in 2009, compared to 2,119 the year before. Wilson
added, however, that there are some hopeful signs the worst of the economic crisis may be over.
"The inventory of used aircraft has peaked and is now declining, flying hours are on the rise, and inquiries for new orders are beginning to grow again," he said. Markets outside North America are
still expanding. "While these positive factors give us reason for optimism, we know that a full recovery will take time," Wilson said. In other GA sectors, turboprops proved most successful in
weathering the economic storm, showing a decline of 17.6 percent. In 2009, 441 turboprops were shipped, down from 535 units in 2008. After five years of growth, the business jet sector declined 33.7
percent with 870 airplanes shipped, compared to the previous year's figure of 1,313 airplanes. More details from the report can be found at GAMA's Web site.
The trade show season revs up next weekend in Houston with Heli-Expo 2010 put on by Helicopter Association International (HAI). Thousands of delegates and hundreds of exhibitors will fill the
George R. Brown Convention Center for the event, which runs from Feb. 20 to Feb. 23. Exhibits and business meetings will go from Sunday to Tuesday. Most major helicopter companies and makers of
related gear will be in attendance and the exhibit floor looks mostly booked. There are dozens of seminars and educational forums scheduled and the event wraps up with HAI's annual Salute To
Excellence Awards dinner.
This year's Pilot of the Year honor goes to Earl S. Palmer, chief pilot of Hillcrest Aircraft Company in
Lewiston, Idaho. The company provides firefighting, construction, power line and other services in the challenging mountainous terrain of the area. Palmer has 13,000 hours in helicopters, including
time in Vietnam where he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for participation in a night re-supply mission at Bien Phoa under heavy enemy fire. A total of ten awards will be handed out.
Lead in auto fuel has already become a memory, and it seeems that day may be coming for avgas, too. In the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli asks whether the
scientific data supports a crusade to remove lead from aviation fuels.
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Last week, we asked AVweb readers which trainees make the best airline pilots.
Once again, there was a lot of variation in your answers but the most popular choice among AVweb readers (accumulating 31% of your votes) was trainees with a mix of
varied experience, simulator time, and classroom training. The second most popular choice (with 23%) was that nothing beats experience. To see the full breakdown, take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.
THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ***
Where's your money on the future of aviation fuel? Proposals are out there to make it from algae, biomass, corn and simply reworking petroleum to give useable
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 email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
Peter Drucker Says, "The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"
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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.
At the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, Piper launched its entry in the light sport market, the Czech-built PiperSport. Aviation Consumer editor Paul Bertorelli
got a flight demo on the airplane, and here's his video report.
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Banyan Air Service at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE) in Florida.
We knew AVweb reader Lindy Kirkland was volunteering with Haitian evacuation and relief flights watch for a podcast with him in the next few days but we were surprised
to see his name in our weekly "FBO" critiques, singing the praises of Banyan Air:
Banyan Air Service in Ft. Lauderdale has donated hangar space, personnel, and fuel discounts to those participating in the Haiti relief efforts. Despite the very upscale facilities and their normal
heavy iron clientele, they were so very courteous to us and got us fueled, moved, loaded and on our way quickly. All this despite getting ready for the Super Bowl!
Lindy went on to call the staff at Banyan "truly amazing" and commended them for their dedication to the relief efforts when there was plenty of other (more profitable) work to be done.
Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on
AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week." Want to see your photo on
AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Team "POTW" is hunkered down for the winter. We've got our big sweaters and flavored coffees and just tossed a log on the fire, so let's open up the submission box and see
what we've got!
Joe Budge of Annapolis, Maryland has been flying supplies into Haiti. While the relief work probably doesn't allow much time for photography, Joe
did manage to snap this photo of one of the DC-3s he's been following on departure after a late-day refueling stop at Providenciales.
We've heard from many AVweb readers who are aiding the recovery effort in Haiti, and we will feature a podcast interview with one of them (as well as a gallery of photos) in the
Friday morning edition of AVwebAudio. Watch for it.
"You never know what you will find sitting in hangars at small airports," writes Don Thun of Topeka, Kansas. To prove it, here's an
interesting item Don stumbled across. "Although I didn't get to talk to the owner," he writes, "other people on the airport told me that this is a wrecked original Gee Bee R2 under
restoration. The wings are done and ready to cover. Others think it is a replica, but I was told it was one of the three originals built that had crashed and that it has at least some of the
original parts in it."
A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of
seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)
A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to
release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.
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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West Mariano Rosales
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