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Volume 16, Number 8b
February 25, 2010
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Top Newsback to top 

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 did not disclose it while for years 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. More...

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 should 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. More...

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From the Fuel Fileback to top 

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. More...

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. More...

Trade Up Your Old Lightspeed Headset for a Zulu
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The New Face of the TSA?back to top 

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." More...

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. More...

Take the 'Wing Contamination' Safety Quiz 
from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation
Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Safe Pilot?
Challenge yourself with the Air Safety Foundation's Safety Quiz, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency

Quiz Topic: Wing Contamination

Snow, frost, or ice can really be a drag on takeoff. Do you know what to look out for on preflight?
Click here to take this quick, interactive 10-question quiz now.
News Briefsback to top 

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. More...

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." More...

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Weekback to top 

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. More...

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. More...

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. More...


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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

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. More...

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. More...

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

The AVweb Insider Blog has lit up with discussion over the importance of eliminating lead from avgas. This week, we'd like to put the question to readers in the form of a poll.

Plus: Last week, we asked AVweb which of the currently-proposed alternatives to 100LL (if any) will reign as the avgas of the future; click through to see how your fellow readers answered. More...

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 What have you heard? More...

Become a Mooniac Now
There has never been a better time to own the fastest single-engine piston plane available. Mooney Airplane Company is offering generous incentives, low interest rates, the best warranty in the industry, and immediate delivery from current inventory. In the Eastern U.S., contact Mark Woods at mwoods[at] for information. Mooney recently celebrated Mark's 125th new Mooney sale. Congratulations, Mark!

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Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversaryback to top 

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 

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.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.


Online Aircraft-Specific Ground Schools
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, through its Office of Professional Education, now offers a series of aircraft-specific ground schools: Boeing 737 Classic — NG, 747, 757, 767 and 777; as well as Airbus 319, 320, 330 and 340; and the Bombardier CRJ 200. For a complete list, visit Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's web site at
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

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. More...

Peter Drucker Says, "The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"
It's easy for your company to be more proactive, flexible, and entrepreneurial with AVweb's cost-effective marketing programs. Discover the benefits of instant response, quick copy changes, monthly tracking reports, and interactive programs. To find out how simple it is to reach 255,000 qualified pilots, owners, and decision-makers weekly, click now for details.
Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


Conoco-Phillips WingPoints || Land at XN 
Air to Get Treated Like a Champion

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!


Reader-Submitted Photosback to top 

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. How about we kick things off with this shot from Sacramento, California's Stephen Koewler? Stephen sent us a bevy of great photos, but this is the one we couldn't take our eyes off of. More...

Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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.