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A Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Social Security Administration acted improperly when it turned over a pilot's medical records to the FAA. To receive medical benefits, Stanmore Cooper
disclosed his condition (HIV-positive) to Social Security officials, but, for years, did not disclose it while renewing his certificate. Cooper later claimed he feared that disclosure of the
information would result in discrimination in the workplace. But when the government launched "Operation Safe Pilot," to identify and investigate FAA certificated pilots who were also receiving
disability benefits, Cooper's records were swept up along with some 45,000 pilots in Northern California. Investigators found conflicts within Cooper's records, shared information between agencies,
and took him to court. Cooper entered a guilty plea and was convicted of making and delivering a false writing. He paid a $1,000 fine. But he then sued, claiming his right to privacy had been
violated, resulting in embarrassment, mental anguish and severe emotional distress.
Cooper initially lost his claim but the ruling was reversed on appeal. Cooper is now entitled to damages for his emotional pain. Cooper was diagnosed with HIV in 1985. At that time, "the FAA
routinely refused to issue medical certificates to individuals with HIV who were taking antiretroviral medications," according to Courthouse News Service. Since then, the FAA has changed its policy.
As a result of his actions, Cooper did receive long-term Social Security disability benefits over the course of one year during which he held his pilot certificate, according to the Courthouse News Service.
In a special report (PDF) released by the FAA this week, investigators said their review of a series of fatal
in-flight accidents involving Zodiac CH601XL and CH650 aircraft "did not indicate a single root cause, but instead implicated the potential combination of several design and operation aspects." The
report says analysis during the special review found that the loads the manufacturer used to design the structure of the wing "did not meet the ASTM standard for a 1,320 lb aircraft." The review also
identified issues with the airplane's flutter characteristics, stick force gradients, airspeed calibration, and operating limitations. In its recommendations, the review team suggests that a number of
corrections, revisions, and clarifications be made to the ASTM standards. The FAA and the manufacturer are still working to modify and test the design. "Once the manufacturer has verified the new
design through further testing and analysis ... owner/operators can make the suggested modifications, and the CH 601 XL and CH 650 should be able to return to safe flight," the report concludes.
"The FAA did an excellent job with this investigation and deserves credit for thoroughly exploring all possibilities," said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. "EAA had vigorously pushed for comprehensive data on these accidents. We wanted to see the data, so
aircraft owners knew exactly what modifications were needed and why they were needed immediately." Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, told AVweb his
organization welcomes the FAA report. "LAMA has received feedback from individuals in the LSA community that indicates the FAA report is a factual and in-depth analysis of the CH601 accidents," he
said. Further, he said, "LAMA observes that AMD thoroughly researched the problem and designed a remedy for their airplane, which FAA has noted."
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A British Boeing 757 returned to land safely in Turin, Italy, last Sunday afternoon, after fuel began to stream from a leak in the right wing shortly after takeoff. Someone on the ground got these
photos of the incident, which likely appeared more serious than it was. The crew circled the airport, with fuel gushing dramatically from the wing, while the runways were shut down to other traffic
and fire and rescue gear was assembled. Once the 757 was light enough to land, the crew made a safe landing. A spokesman for Thomas Cook, the charter company that operates the aircraft, told The Guardian the leak was caused by a faulty fuel valve. It was repaired and the
passengers flew home safely on the same aircraft on Monday. One passenger told The Guardian the leaking fuel could be seen from the passenger windows, and some of those on board were worried the
aircraft would lose all of its fuel before landing. "But then the pilot calmed us down and everything went smoothly and without a single bump," the passenger said.
Thomas Cook, a charter travel company based in the United Kingdom, operates a fleet of 45 aircraft. The passengers had traveled to Italy for a ski vacation.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which operates the nation's largest fleet of airplanes in a college training program, said on Monday some of those airplanes will soon be burning lead-free renewable fuels produced by Swift
Enterprises. "We believe this effort by Embry-Riddle and Swift will guide the way to a large-scale switch by the general aviation industry to alternative fuels," said Richard Anderson, associate
professor of aerospace engineering and chief investigator in the research project. Engineers at ERAU's campus in Daytona Beach, Fla., will perform the certification testing needed to enable more than
40 Cessna 172s, nearly half of the university's fleet of 95 aircraft, to use Swift fuel. Embry-Riddle chose to partner with Swift because the company's non-leaded fuel has passed an FAA detonation
test and gets more miles per gallon than current aviation fuel, the university said in a news release. The fuel can be synthesized from sorghum.
Small aircraft, which burn nearly 190 million gallons of aviation fuel a year, contribute 45 percent of the lead emissions in the nation's air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Removing lead from airplane fuel has been technically challenging, because lead prevents detonation in airplane engines, according to ERAU's news release. AVweb editorial director Paul
Bertorelli recently tested another candidate for the fuel that will replace 100LL, G100UL, under development by General Aviation Modifications, Inc. Click here to read his report and his opinions about the fuel.
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Although some of the onerous security procedures proposed for GA by TSA have originated within the agency itself, many have come from Congress. But the National Air Transportation Association's
Jim Coyne told AVweb on Tuesday that we may see less of that in the coming months. "I think what happened is that they got a few people who knew a little about general aviation in TSA. One of
our former staff people went over there. They have a capable, knowledgeable team, but they really only have only two or three people over there who have much GA experience," Coyne said in an
interview after a presentation on airport issues at Venice, Florida. "The reality is that many of the aviation security concerns have been created out of thin air by fictional novelists ... .
[F]ortunately, TSA now has some backbone to tell some Congressmen we're not into the fear-mongering anymore."
We asked Coyne if last week's crash in Austin, in which a local pilot with a tax beef flew his Dakota into an office housing the IRS, would spin Congress into high-profile hearings. "I think the
odds are probably one in three for hearings on this. My guess is the appetite for most Congressmen to revisit this is pretty low. It won't be a media event with a lot of hysterical attention," he
Does Congress overreact and over-legislate in the name of security? At this point, isn't that a rhetorical question? NATA's Jim Coyne says there may be a light at the end of the tunnel and
credits the TSA with bringing GA concerns before Congress.
The NTSB is recommending that Part 121, 135 and 91K operators be required by the FAA to periodically collect and review cockpit voice recorder information, and use that information to check up on
the work habits of pilots. Periodic review of this information would "enhance flight safety by assisting operators in detecting and correcting deviations from standard operating procedures," according
to the NTSB. The formal recommendations were published, Tuesday, as part of a much larger safety recommendation document
(PDF) derived from last year's deadly Colgan Air crash. The NTSB recommends the data be collected as part of a carrier's flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) program and that "appropriate
protections" be put in place to ensure confidentiality and ensure the information is used "for safety-related and not punitive purposes." Pilot unions expressed concern. Capt John Prater, president of
the Air Line Pilots Association, told USA Today that reviewing the recordings could inhibit pilots from speaking up in the cockpit about safety issues. "It's an intrusion on privacy," chairman of
safety at the Allied Pilots Association, Mike Michaelis, said. Legislators felt differently.
Members of Congress have expressed support for using the recorders as an auditing tool. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the Transportation Committee, has said such a program was the "next
frontier of safety" and it "must not [be] put off." The specific NTSB recommendation comes some 47 pages into the safety recommendation letter (PDF), which details lessons learned from the Colgan crash. In collection and review of cockpit recordings, the board concludes that systematic
monitoring of all available data could provide operators with "objective information regarding the manner in which flights are being conducted."
On March 9 and 10, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) will be honored in several events in Washington, D.C., culminating with the award of the Congressional Gold Medal, and a veterans group
in Texas is asking for donations to help pay the travel expenses of those who would like to attend but can't afford to. Of the 1,102 women who
served during World War II, about 300 are still alive. At the D.C. ceremony, each of the WASP or her relative will receive a bronze copy of the medal, with the original gold copy going to the
Smithsonian Institution. "These women pilots paid their own way to enter training, took up a collection to help pay for the expenses of burial when one of their peers was killed, and when they were
disbanded in 1944, they had to pay their own way back home," says the Web site for The Heart of Texas Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, which is taking the donations. "There
were no honors, no benefits, and few thanks. This is America's opportunity to say 'Thank you' to the WASP."
The WASP were civilian female pilots employed to fly under the direction of the U.S. Army Air Forces. They flew fighter, bomber, transport, and training aircraft and have been credited with
catalyzing revolutionary reform in the integration of women pilots into the armed services. WASP veterans and their relatives can find more details about the event schedule at the Web site of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation. Information can also be found there about how to
register to attend the official events; the deadline is this Friday, Feb. 26. American Airlines and Avis Rent A Car are offering travel discounts for WASP and their families. To donate to the WASP
travel fund, click here. One hundred percent of the money raised will be spent to cover the cost of the WASP individual medals, meals and
transportation, and to provide other logistical support, says MOAA. The medal was awarded by an act of Congress last June.
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The outboard six feet of the right wing on a Cessna 337 broke off just before the aircraft crashed and killed five people in New Jersey last week. Just what effect that will have on Cessna's
process to initiate an extensive wing inspection program on the aging aircraft isn't clear at this point but it's likely to come up. As AVweb reported in January, Cessna is developing a supplemental inspection document (SID) that focuses on the
wing attach points of the Skymaster series. It appears the Feb. 15 failure was outboard of the strut attachment point and involved failure of the "horizontal flange of the forward spar lower cap,"
according to the NTSB preliminary report. The report says the failure occurred as the aircraft pitched up
after a high-speed, low-altitude flyby at Monmouth County Executive Airport. The aircraft had STC'd tip tanks and had taken on 90 gallons of fuel prior to the flight.
The pilot, a 45-year-old ATP, was in the right seat while his Polish private pilot friend was in the left. Another adult, a 14-year-old boy and a six-year-old boy were on board. The accident
happened about four minutes into the flight. Relatives of those on board were at the airport but reports say they likely didn't witness the crash. The NTSB says the wing section, which included the
aileron, was found on the runway, about 633 feet from the main wreckage, and showed signs of going through the rear propeller.
The Nall Report, an annual analysis of general aviation accident data by AOPA's Air Safety Foundation, found an increase in accidents involving amateur-built aircraft. The statistics from 2008
showed more fatal accidents and fatalities than any year in the past decade, the report says. "The 27 percent lethality rate in these accidents was 10 full percentage points higher than that for
accidents in type-certificated airplanes," according to the report. The foundation is working with EAA to address safety issues, said ASF President Bruce Landsberg. "Builders, pilots, and designers
should have reasonable freedom to experiment, while members of the public are entitled to their expectation of safety," he said. Also, the FAA has issued a response to the NTSB's annual list of Most
Wanted Safety Improvements. The FAA says it has made progress in the main areas of concern cited by the NTSB: fatigue, emergency medical services flights, runway safety, and crew resource management.
Regarding the installation of image recorders in cockpits, the FAA says it is working to improve data monitoring systems but has no plans to mandate image devices.
The Nall Report also expanded its database this year to include an analysis of accidents involving helicopters and for-hire GA operations with aircraft weighing 12,500 pounds or less. Overall, the
236 fatal accidents and 433 deaths were the lowest on record, but the fatal accident rate, taking into account the decrease in flight activity, was close to the historic average. Click here for a short synopsis of the findings, or click here for the full report. The NTSB's most-wanted list of safety improvements for aviation also includes the operation of aircraft in icing conditions. The design and approval
process for flight in icing conditions should be revised using current research about freezing rain, and those revised requirements should be applied to currently certificated aircraft, the NTSB said.
Also, crews flying airplanes with pneumatic de-ice boots should activate the boots as soon as the airplane enters icing conditions, the safety board said. Click here for the complete list of wanted improvements from the NTSB; click here for the response from the FAA.
Aero Friedrichshafen, Europe's general aviation show coming up April 8 to 11, will host 450 exhibitors from 25
countries in nine halls, organizers said this week, and the outdoor exhibit space is fully booked. The event showcases all facets of GA flying, from hang gliders to business jets. "With Aero, we're
offering the general aviation industry a powerful marketing tool," said project director Thomas Grunewald. "For many of our customers in the industry, [Aero] is a persuasive reason not to take cover
and react to these challenging economic times in an anti-cyclical manner." In difficult times, Grunewald said, it's more important than ever for manufacturers to market their products aggressively.
The show will also feature expanded space for helicopters and will explore developments in environmentally-friendly technology -- electric, hybrid, diesel, and fuel-cell driven aircraft.
The event also will host the first European Air Ambulance Meeting. The show was formerly held every other year, but as of this year, will be held annually. The organizers have worked with Sun 'n
Fun to coordinate their schedules so exhibitors can appear at both shows.
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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.
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"?
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Last week, we asked AVweb readers which of the currently-proposed alternatives to 100LL (if any) will reign as the avgas of the future.
While none of the options topped 50% of the vote, the most popular single option (with 39% of the vote) was that leaded fuel will be history soon, but the main source of aviation
fuel will still be petroleum. Not all of you were convinced, however another 31% of readers said that while petroleum is viable for the short term, we must keep working on
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.
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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.
Wouldn't it be great if the modern primary flight display integrated the attitude indicator with the HSI? You'd have only one point to scan. Advanced Flight Systems' new EFIS does
exactly that. Rob Hickman gives us a tour.
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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.
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 ***
Put down that wrench/newspaper/cup of coffee and join us as we check out the latest stack of eye-popping photos from your fellow AVweb readers.
Eric Cobb of Santa Ynez, California tells us the pilot managed to walk away from this unorthodox landing unhurt. While the land is clearly posted
No Trespassing, we imagine the owner understood this was a unique circumstance.
How did this T-34 lay claim to such a sweet parking spot (under the wing of Fat Albert!) at the 2008 Chicago Air and Water Show? According to Schaumburg, Illinois's John Rippinger, the owner somehow convinced the C-130's USMC crew to share the spotlight with him.
"[This] glass-roofed building near Wilmington, Delaware looked awfully warm in the wake of the recent blizzard," writes Doug Garrou of
(Doug wasn't the only reader to send us snow-covered photos of his flying adventures during the Great White-Out of 2010. For a couple of others we really wish we could've shared
here, be sure to check out that slideshow on the home page we're always carrying on about.)
Last Flight of the Day (Why Does It Have to Get Dark?)
That's the question put to us by Greg Custer of Auburn, Alabama and for once we can be the bearer of good news: Daylight saving time in the
U.S. will push sunset back an hour in just three weeks, Greg!
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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