AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 8a

February 22, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: GA in the Security Spotlight (Again) back to top 
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Congressman Wants Light Airplane Security Review

A pair of GA-related incidents in the past few days has raised the profile of small aircraft security concerns but even the loudest advocates for a federal review of the topic admit it probably wouldn't prevent future events of this kind. Within hours of the Austin incident, Texas Republican Rep. Mike McCaul was calling it an act of terrorism. "When you fly an airplane into a federal building to kill people, that's how you define terrorism," said McCaul, who is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee. McCaul is calling for congressional hearings on the security of federal buildings with an emphasis on protecting them from attacks from the air. But he also said "no amount of security can prevent a man in a plane from taking his own life." The Austin incident and the theft of a Cirrus SR22 in California a day later may bring fresh scrutiny of the TSA's decision to back off implementation of the Large Airplane Security Program, which it announced two weeks ago.

In his blog in the Boston Herald, former TSA official Anthony Amore says he's hoping the Austin incident will cause the TSA to revisit the "common sense and easily implemented measures" required by LASP. In fact, Anmore is up front about the tragedy in Austin as providing leverage to reopen LASP without having any effect on preventing the Joseph Stacks of the world from executing a similar scheme. "The simple fact is this: Sometimes there's nothing you can do. Once in a while, lone maniacs decide to kill as many people as they can," Anmore wrote. "All the name checks and technology in the world couldn't have kept Stack from flying his plane into the IRS building. But perhaps this tragedy will cause the TSA to reconsider its ill-conceived plan to roll back general aviation security."

Tax Law Beef Led To Austin Crash

A. Joseph Stack's slow burn may have started more than 20 years ago when he learned that federal law virtually forbade him from pursuing his career as a software engineer as an independent contractor rather than an employee. It's now considered fact that Stack deliberately flew his Piper PA-28-236 Dakota into an IRS office in Austin, TX last Thursday, killing himself and one person in the building and injuring two others. Although Stack's specific problems with the IRS may have been more complicated (reports say an audit revealed $12,700 in undeclared income by his wife), in his suicide note, he cited a 1986 law that specifically targets computer industry workers. The law was intended to ensure that highly-paid freelancers didn't escape paying mandatory tax and social security deductions and has also been described as a favor to certain high tech companies by powerful Washington insiders. The FAA briefly closed Georgetown Airport, where Stack launched on his apparent suicide mission after a note was found in his car saying a bomb had been left at the airport.

The Austin event was the second crash of an aircraft in an urban area in as many days. Wednesday a Cessna 310R registered to a senior executive at Tesla Motors hit a tower or power lines and crashed in a Palo Alto neighborhood, damaging three houses, one of which housed a daycare. No one on the ground was injured but three people on the plane, all Tesla employees, were killed. They have not been positively identified. The aircraft had just taken off from Palo Alto Airport, which was reporting heavy fog and visibility of less than an eighth of a mile at the time. There is some speculation the aircraft lost its left engine on takeoff but authorities are a long way from confirming that. The tower and power line damaged in the incident fed most of Palo Alto and power was out for hours.

Related Content:
The final transmissions to Georgetown Tower from N2889D, believed to be the crash aircraft, were recorded. (Click to listen).

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Shady Goings-On Down at the Airport back to top 

Stolen SR22, Uncertificated Pilot, Land At LAX

23-year-old Skye Turner has been charged after reportedly flying from Montgomery Field, San Diego, with an expired student pilot certificate, in a stolen Cirrus SR22, and landing (after a side trip to Palm Springs) safely at LAX. The landing took place at about 3 a.m., Friday, on a second attempt. By that time, Turner had been with the aircraft for more than six hours, a source close to the investigation told the Contra Costa Times. It had not even been a day since Joseph Stack's apparently intentional crash into an Austin office building helped raise concerns about airport security. Concern in Stack's case arose when early reports inaccurately claimed Stack had stolen his aircraft. A day later, in San Diego, operators of the Coast Flight School were left answering questions about how Turner gained access to an aircraft that belonged to one of their clients and was left in their charge. As for Turner, his first contact with LAX Tower controllers took place at about 2:25 a.m., while he was flying above 11,000 feet and 40 miles out, according to authorities. A spokesman for the controllers union told the Los Angeles Times the young man seemed "confused and disoriented, but could follow instruction." Because of his location, controllers working the tower at LAX transferred Turner to Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Center in San Diego. And for simplicity those controllers stayed with him throughout the event and guided him to his landing.

Turner rejected his first approach at LAX, reportedly claiming he was flying too fast, but managed a landing on his second attempt. He was greeted on the ground by the FBI, who questioned him, and was subsequently charged for stealing the plane by the Los Angeles police. FAA records show he was granted a student pilot certificate in September of 2004. Contacted for comment, Turner's father told reporters, "I'm not surprised." He added that he was upset by the events, but "I'm glad it's come to an end. I'm glad that he's arrested. This is a good thing." Skye Turner is reportedly being held on $20,000 bond. It was not clear when AVweb went to press if any commercial flights had been affected by the young man's actions.

Organized Crime At Aussie Airports

An Australian parliamentary committee has been told that organized crime has walked through gaping holes in the country's aviation and marine security apparatus to become entrenched participants in all aspects of security operations, from baggage handlers up to and including customs agents. Representatives of unions, airlines and ground support service companies told the committee that, essentially, criminals have the run of airports in Australia and use them as key elements of their smuggling and distribution efforts. "The potential for a trusted insider (airport/airline employees, contractors, security personnel, retailers and so on) to circumvent security measures and use their knowledge of the environment is an ongoing consideration for aviation industry participants," Qantas, Australia's largest airline, said in its submission.

The committee was told that less than 1 percent of cargo is screened and catering services are never checked. The Australian Federal Police Association claims the voluntary "declare" or "nothing to declare" customs arrivals system allows crime groups to send drug-carrying "mules" through airports from other countries with little chance they'll be challenged. Politicians didn't seem all that surprised, including committee chairman Steve Hutchins, a Labor Party senator. "We are not at all impressed about what appears to be the ease with which people are able to access maritime cards let alone aviation security cards," he told The Sunday Mail. "Over the years, it's been proven that on the waterfront and in airports, there are clearly people who have links to organised and serious crime."

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Your Next Hybrid May Not Be a Prius back to top 

Bye Energy's Hybrid Powerplant Aspirations

Bye Energy's George Bye (formerly of ATG) tells AVweb that some of Thursday's general media news coverage regarding his company's future electric hybrid aircraft propulsion plans may have been misleading. Thursday Bye Energy announced "The Green Flight Project" and Bye displayed a mockup of what he described as a 90-pound, 168-hp electric propulsion unit and said his company was working to produce a proof of concept model. Completion of that design, according to local reports, would take about eight months and a roughly $1 million investment. Friday, Bye told AVweb that the potential products he described the prior day may be different from the proof of concept model he hopes to produce by year-end. In the long term, Bye hopes to organize technological partners that could one day produce an aircraft that collects solar energy from photovoltaic wing panels to supplement the future aircraft's battery/fossil fuel hybrid powerplant. But by year-end, he expects to have a product with specifications dictated by its development. That said, Bye believes hybrid technology could one day significantly lower operating costs while reducing emissions, noise and maintenance requirements. And that thinking has not been unique to Bye Energy.

Aside from Bye, German manufacturer Flight Design (which produces the popular CT-series of Light Sport Aircraft) announced at 2009's AirVenture Oshkosh its plans to develop from a standard Rotax 914 engine an electric-augmented powerplant. That design would use the electric motor for bursts of power to supplement power at takeoff to the tune of an extra 40 hp, according to the company. Flying in cruise, the combustion engine would work to recharge the motor's batteries with "negligible" resistance translated to the crankshaft, said the company. Flight Design has made little news with its hybrid since last summer.

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Only Weeks Away: Sun, Fun, and Skiles back to top 

Flight 1549's Jeff Skiles Featured At Sun 'n Fun

The annual Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Exposition will this year play host to US Airways' Flight 1549 co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, who will participate in scheduled activities during the week. Sun 'n Fun will be held this year from April 13 through April 18 at its normal venue, Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Fla. Skiles will host an evening program to be held Wednesday, April 15, to be held at the Florida Air Museum's outdoor pavilion. He will also deliver a lecture (also at the museum) Friday at 2 p.m. Organizers say Skiles will play a part in "a host of other activities during the week."

Sun 'n Fun is marketing this year's fly-in as "Spring Break For Pilots." Advance tickets are being sold online ($95 for a weekly pass, or $30 per day, per adult). The Fly-In is hosting an online "Share A Flight" program designed to help want-to-be attendees connect with a willing pilot and aircraft to deliver them the show. Aside from ground displays, fly-in aircraft judging, a balloon launch and more, the 2010 airshow portion will be headlined by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

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Giving Back back to top 

Sporty's Foundation Donated $200,000 Last Year

The Sporty's Foundation last year donated $200,000 to programs that support youth in aviation, bringing its total investment in that cause to more than $500,000 over the past three years, according to the Foundation's annual report. The formally stated goal of the Foundation is "to fund initiatives that ensure a healthy future for the general aviation community by providing young people with information about the many careers that are available in aviation." Last year, the Foundation's largest grant went to EAA for the youth aviation initiative, dubbed "Next Step," that grants Young Eagles guidance and access to Sporty's Complete Flight Training Course, online (otherwise, a $200 product). Other grants went for flight training and maintenance training scholarships, the Boy Scouts, Build A Plane, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation and others. Sporty's operates the Foundation as a 501(c)(3) organization and welcomes contributions, which are tax-deductible.

Earlier this month, concrete results were shown by the pairing of the EAA/Sporty's Next Step program when 16-year-old Tyler Whitney became the first Young Eagle participant to pass his private pilot written after using Sporty's online training. Whitney had gained access to the program after taking his first flight through the Young Eagles program. Sporty's says it is making the training available "free to all Young Eagles, past, present, and future." To help support the future of the program, the Foundation has created with EAA a Youth Programs Manager position at EAA headquarters in Oshkosh, Wisc.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Maybe Pogo Was Right

When we meet the enemy, he is sometimes us, or so it would seem. The day after the tragic crash in Austin, a stolen SR22 surfaces and is corralled in, of all places, Los Angeles International Airport. In the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli ponders that and grinds his teeth over the rise of push-button cable talking heads who are ever-willing to stir the public's fears.

Click here to join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Austin — It's a Test, Really

Another lone kamikaze pilot with a grudge has crashed an airplane into a building, this time in Austin, Texas. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli is watching the news coverage with interest. Will this be reported as another instance of "domestic terrorism," or have we crossed back into the realm where such crimes are — well, just "crimes"?

Click here to read Paul's thoughts and voice your opinion.

AVweb Insider Blog: Is Lead in Fuel Morally Bad?

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.

Click here to read Paul's thoughts and add your own.

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

Do You Own a Piper Archer?

If so, Aviation Consumer would like to hear from you for the magazine's next Used Aircraft Guide. We would like to know what your ownership experience has been like, what it costs to operate the airplane, how much insurance and annuals cost, and what the airplane will haul. Tell us about cruise speeds and fuel burns, too.

Contact avconsumer@comcast.net.

(For subscription information, click here.)

AVmail: February 22, 2010

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: Austin Aftermath

After reading nine or 10 blogs referencing the intentional crash into some IRS offices in Austin, I noticed comments ranging from the advocacy of more restrictions on general aviation to an outright ban on GA.

The only relief here is the fact that Joseph Stack did not steal the Cherokee but was the owner. All pilots and others involved in general aviation need to be proactive in this matter. Be polite, but to the point, pointing out that there is no way to prejudge when any individual is going off the deep end and will take his plane, car, or truck and commit mayhem.

There undoubtedly will be many calls from our lawmakers and others to further hobble general aviation well beyond what is reasonable.

Ray Laughinghouse

Lead Is a Money Issue

I don't think that tetraethyl lead will ever be unavailable. It is not a difficult compound to make. As long as there is a demand for it, somebody will make it. It would be difficult to get permission to build a plant in the U.S., but it could be built elsewhere. The risk is not that there will not be a supplier, but that the government will regulate it out of existence.

As far as biofuels are concerned, it is unlikely that they will ever be cheaper than petroleum-based fuels, and I am unwilling to pay a premium for biofuels. I have been reading about the biofuels industry for about ten years now, and I will believe their claims when I can pull my plane up to a biofuels pump and fill my tank for less than at the 100LL pump.

Richard Jones

No Planes to Rent

I live in South Central Texas and not been able to find a plane to rent. Actually, I have not rented one in the last two years and therefore have not flown. There are a lot of really nice airports in the radius area from Austin to Houston, but there are not any planes to rent.

If we want to increase the number of pilots (and keep the ones we have flying), we need to address the lack of rental aircraft. I would love to own my own, but at this time I am unable to.

Flying is a passion that needs recurrent training. Without rental aircraft there is no ability to keep training or flying. This is a serious problem that no one addresses, and a very large portion of the pilot population is made up of renter pilots.

Brad Heck

AOPA Sweepstakes

[The] "Luck of the Draw" comment by Scott Thomason in AVmail on February 15, 2010 was right on the money. Myself and four of my close friends decided to relinquish our memberships in AOPA a few years back because of the AOPA sweepstakes. We became fed up with only active pilots, who already owned airplanes, getting another one even nicer. In some cases, the active pilots were husband and wife and each already had their own airplane, so the comment about "hanging on to existing pilots" by Russ Niles apparently didn't work for at least five active pilots that I know of. I'm sure there are more.

John Stansberry

I have to agree with Scott Thomason's comments about the AOPA giveaway airplane and at the same time disagree with your response. The purpose of the giveaway has never been clear to me. It seems like there are much better ways to increase participation in general aviation. Scott mentioned several. On the other hand, I don't see how giving away an SR22 or any other aircraft helps with pilot retention. If a pilot truly loves to fly, he or she will find a way to fit it into their budget. If there isn't enough budget to be able to afford to fly, giving someone an SR22 isn't going to solve the problem. Any pilot who can't afford to rent a 152 occasionally sure isn't going to be able to afford taxes, insurance, hangar, etc. for the SR22.

I don't know if AOPA keeps stats, but I wouldn't be surprised if most of the giveaway airplanes end up being sold by their new owners shortly after delivery. I would like to see AOPA pass on the giveaway airplane and find some other means of promoting aviation.

Mike Wills

The Best Airline Pilots

Brian Hope hit the nail right on the head in his letter concerning airline pilots. I had an airline career from Pipers to glass cockpit jets for 36 years and considered myself very fortunate to be able to fly great airliners and take people safely to their destinations. What great training we had, and it was always amazing that my airline gave me training in $20 million simulators.

Brian is correct. If you are in it for the money and glory, step aside, because there are pilots out there who enjoy being an airline pilot and will continue to obtain new aviation-related safety information throughout their careers.

Richard Calarco

R Is for Replica?

Rest assured, the Gee Bee Model R in the photograph [fourth one down in the current "Picture of the Week"] is not an original. The R-1 was crashed at Indianapolis by Russell Boardman in 1933, and the R-2 was destroyed by Jim Haizlip at Agawam, MA not long after.

Parts of the two aircraft were put together by the Granvilles into what they called the Long Tail Racer. Roy Minor crashed it at Agawam, and it was sold to another party. It was destroyed at the start of the 1935 Bendix race in California.

I'd sure like to know who is building this replica. There are a few being built and I'm very interested.

Pops Meade

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

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

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win a Garmin Aera 510 Handheld GPS

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win a Garmina aera 510 handheld GPS 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 — so if you've already entered, you're all set.)

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 March 12, 2010.

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

An AVweb Milestone -- 10 Million Video Views Online

AVweb's online videos are closing in on the 10 million views mark. With more than 200 videos currently online, and more posted each week, AVweb videos now consistently attract more than 10,000 views per day from a global audience. Covering everything from breaking news to product reviews and aviation-related topics of interest, AVweb videos have been featured online by everyone from bloggers to major news organizations, worldwide. Browse the collection online, here. Pause your mouse over an image to reveal the video's full title and click on it to play. Click the yellow "Subscribe" button if you want to be among the first to know what's next. Thanks for watching. We'll keep them coming.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Rectrix Aerodrome (Hyannis, Mass.)

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

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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Rectrix Aviation & Aerodrome at Cape Cod/Southeast Massachusetts Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA) in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

AVweb reader Vicente Collazo-Davila told us how Rectrix came to his rescue recently:

On preparing for an early evening departure, I was unable to turnover the right engine on my Navajo. The FBO tried to locate a mechanic at that late hour, but were unable to do so. They then offered to tow my airplane into their hangar at no cost to avoid frost and to provide a warm environment in the event that I was able to find a mecchanic. They went out of their way to make sure that I and my passengers were taken care of. This was no isolated event: I fly up there every 7 to 8 weeks, and the service is always outstanding. Jim the GM does an outstanding job of hiring and training the best personnel. From the linesmen to the ladies working behind the counter they are without exception totally dedicated to giving unparalleled customer service.

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

"Ground, Cessna 12345 is at the restaurant, ready to taxi for north departure."

Ground Control:

A minute later ...

Ground Control:
"Cessna at the Outer Marker, please repeat your request."

The pilot of N12345 doesn't respond, but is surely wondering why grouns is calling on aircraft on the ILS.

Ground Control:
"Cessna at the Outer Marker, do you have a request?"

Another long pause, until the pilot eventually looks up at the name of the building in front of him, the Outer Marker Restaurant, and realizes, "That would be me he's talking to!"

"Ground, Cessna 12345 is ready to taxi for north departure."

Bob Joye
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.