AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 10b

March 11, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: FAA Optimistic for the Future of GA back to top 

FAA Forecasts Growth For General Aviation

By 2030, the general aviation fleet will grow by about 50,000 airplanes and 52,000 active pilots, the FAA forecast this week. The forecast calls for robust growth in the long term and predicts business use of GA aircraft will expand at a faster pace than personal and recreational use. With growth forecast across all sectors -- traffic at the nation's 35 busiest airports is expected to increase by 60 percent -- infrastructure upgrades will need to keep up. "A safe, efficient and vibrant aviation system is vital to our nation's economic health," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "We must find long-term solutions that will keep the U.S. aviation industry competitive and moving forward into the future." Light sport aircraft are expected to increase by about 825 aircraft per year through 2013, then taper off to about 335 per year. Sport pilots, who numbered 3,248 at the end of 2009, will increase to 14,100 by 2030, the FAA estimates.

The forecast, which comes after a short-term period of slow growth in aviation activity, underscores the need for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), as well as continued investment in airport infrastructure projects, the FAA said. "This forecast makes a very strong business case for NextGen," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "Without NextGen, we won't be able to handle the increased demand for service that this forecast anticipates." Meanwhile, the FAA reauthorization bill, which will provide funding for the agency, continues to be stalled in Congress. Legislators from Tennessee have come under fire this week for trying to derail the bill due to a provision that would make it possible for some FedEx workers to unionize.

Question of the Week: The FAA Foresees a Robust Future of GA; Do You?

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked AVweb readers for their opinions on air traffic controller Glenn Duffy and his son, now infamous as DFW's "Kid Controller."

A majority of those who responded (55%) saw the son's time on the radio as harmless fun and said no sanctions are necessary. Running a distance second in the poll, kind of funny but maybe not appropriate accounted for 21% of the vote. As the options became sterner, the number of responses dwindled, until 3% of those who answered recommended that both dad and supervisor should be sacked.

Want to see a full breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.


The FAA says there will be 50,000 more GA airplanes and 52,000 more active pilots 20 years from now. Is that a reasonable prediction?

Is the FAA's growth prediction for GA accurate?
(click to answer)

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"? Send your suggestions to .

This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments.
Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.

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Safety by the Numbers (And What They Imply) back to top 

EAA Examines Homebuilt Safety Data

Statistics that show a high accident rate for homebuilt aircraft may not reveal the complete picture, EAA said this week. The Nall Report, compiled annually by AOPA's Air Safety Foundation, reported last week that in 2008, amateur-built aircraft had an accident rate almost five times the rate of type-certificated aircraft and a fatal accident rate more than seven times higher. "On the surface, the statistics may give one impression of amateur-built accident and fatal-accident rates," said EAA on its Web site. "It takes some digging to get actual totals and comparisons." For example, EAA said, the FAA and NTSB often use different parameters to report the homebuilt aircraft fleet size and the accidents that occur each year. "Our analysis is in part, in response to the Nall Report," EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski told AVweb on Wednesday. "We felt the numbers that were out there could benefit from additional analysis and clarification." EAA posted an analysis by Ron Wanttaja that offers an alternate view of the data.

For example, Wanttaja notes the NTSB listed 269 "homebuilt" airplanes that were involved in accidents in 2008, but a closer look at those aircraft shows that 84 of them were not classified as "Experimental- Amateur built" by the FAA. About half of those were "grandfathered" two-seat ultralights that have been reclassified as Experimental Light Sport Aircraft, says Wanttaja. If those aircraft are not counted as part of the "homebuilt" data, the accident rate would drop by nearly one-third. Wanttaja's complete analysis (PDF) examines various accident causes and risk factors. "But when all is said and done," he concludes, "the accident rate for Amateur-Built aircraft is going to be higher than Standard-category aircraft. Homebuilt aircraft are amateur-built, amateur-maintained, amateur-flown, and often amateur-designed. The fact that more than 1,000 new homebuilts safely complete their test period every year speaks well of the abilities and dedication of the typical builder."

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Construction Could Complicate Tarmac Fines back to top 

JetBlue And Delta Petition For Relief From New Delay Fines

The Department of Transportation's new rule limiting the time passengers can be held on closed aircraft away from the gate goes into effect April 29, but Delta and JetBlue think construction at JFK may give them good reason to be excused from potential fines. The airlines, which operate a majority of flights at the airport, have petitioned for temporary exemptions from the rule because a four-month-long project at JFK will close the airport's longest of four runways (14,572-foot 13R/31L) as it is widened and repaved in concrete through July. Under normal conditions during peak hours, the FAA estimates the runway's closure may cause delays of about 50 minutes, and those delays will then ripple out to other airports and through affected carriers' schedules. Both Delta and JetBlue have made adjustments to their schedules but fear that may not be enough. Under the DOT's new rule, an airline could be fined for every passenger held on a closed non-traveling airliner for more than three hours. Translated into dollars, it means that an airline that left passengers on a full Boeing 737 could be subjected to nearly $3.5 million in fines.

Runway 13R/31L is among the longest and busiest in the world and has found a place on the list for backup landing sites for the space shuttle. In 2009, JFK ranked 28 out of 31 airports for on-time performance. The runway project will not help. Delta and JetBlue have cut their flights at JFK by about 10 percent, padded their schedules and may raise prices to balance demand, but fear that may not be enough. The airport usually has its rush hour at 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.. Morning delays there can then compromise schedules nationwide. The DOT's timing puts its new rule, which could hit airlines to the tune of $27,500 per passenger, in place at the beginning of the peak travel season. The legislation is championed by organizations like Flyersrights.org.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

NTSB: No Evidence Glass Cockpits Improve Safety

An NTSB study shows glass cockpit technology has not significantly improved the safety of small light planes, the NTSB said Tuesday, and the board recommended changes, from training to maintenance reporting, to improve the statistics. While data collected between 2002 and 2008 showed fewer total accidents for those aircraft equipped with glass panels, that total came with a higher fatal accident rate and higher total fatal accidents. For the period from 2002-2008, conventionally equipped aircraft suffered 141 total accidents with 23 having a fatal outcome. Glass-equipped aircraft suffered 125 total accidents with 39 having a fatal outcome. But the board's study also found the mission profile for each type of equipment package and the characteristics of the pilot were different between the two platforms. Generally speaking, higher-time pilots were flying longer flights with glass. That said, the NTSB was able to use the data to offer six recommendations voiced at the meeting. Five of those were related to equipment-specific training and one applied directly to testing requirements.

The NTSB's study found that glass-equipped cockpit accidents were more likely to involve single-pilot operations, with an older pilot who was more likely to be instrument rated and flying with a higher number of total flight hours. That also corresponded with a higher number of terrain- and weather-related accidents attributed to glass panel aircraft. Weather-related accidents made up 4 percent of conventionally equipped aircraft accidents in the study but 9 percent for glass-panel-equipped aircraft. Conventionally equipped aircraft seemed more dominant in the training segment as accidents of those aircraft involved younger pilots, more students and pilots with fewer total hours. The NTSB recommends that airman knowledge tests be revised to include general knowledge regarding glass panels, that information in aircraft manuals include abnormal and failure modes of the panels, that training elements be introduced to improve pilot knowledge of glass-panel system functionality, that specific training elements be introduced to address variations in equipment design and operation of such displays, that alternate training methods (such as PC versus flight simulator) be approved to support proficiency, and that a system be created to better report and track problems with the units. The study's findings had not yet been posted online when AVweb published this item.

Related Content — NTSB Reports:

USA Today: Better Simulator Training Could Save Lives

More training for pilots on advanced simulators could help prevent crashes and save hundreds of lives, according to an analysis by USA Today. Many pilots today are trained on older simulators that can't effectively re-create the real behavior of aircraft during stalls, severe icing, upsets due to wind shear or wake encounters, and other extreme conditions, says a recent NTSB report. Loss of control was a factor in 73 percent of the 433 airline fatalities in the U.S. since 2000. (Note that the fatalities that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, are not counted in accident statistics, since they resulted from a crime, not an accident.) Newer simulators created with research by the military and NASA are more effective, but there are no federal requirements for pilots to be trained on them.

At a conference in London last June, representatives from Boeing reported that they had conducted tests with new simulators using data from recent NASA research to improve aerodynamic fidelity, and the results were positive. They tested several pilots after upset training with their enhanced simulator. "The conclusion was that upset recovery training typically enables the pilot to complete the maneuver without exceeding the validated flight envelope," according to the NTSB report, issued in December. A representative from Boeing summarized the consensus of the conference, according to the report, when he said, "There are certainly ways to effect realistic representative stall characteristics ... The reason those aren't there today is because there has not been a requirement." The report cites several loss-of-control accidents in which the crew's lack of practice in handling upsets contributed to the crash.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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News Briefs back to top 

WASP Receive Congressional Gold Medal

Wednesday, March 10, 2010, roughly 300 former Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) attended a ceremony on Capitol Hill to receive the Congressional Gold Medal for service to their country during World War II. The first minted medal was printed in gold and awarded ceremoniously. It will find its home at the Smithsonian. Surviving members received individual replicas of the medal, made of bronze. More than 60 years since they served their country as the first women trained to fly United States military aircraft, some 800 medals had to be awarded posthumously to surviving family members. The total number of medals awarded was 1,114, representing 1,102 WASP, plus 11 who died in training. One more medal was awarded to Jacqueline Cochran, founder of the WASP, and now deceased. The medal is awarded by Congress and is the highest honor a civilian may receive, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The intent of the WASP program was to free up male combat pilots from stateside duty during the war. But ultimately it "served as a catalyst for revolutionary reform in the integration of women pilots into the Armed Services," according to the Hutchison-Mikulski bill that first proposed awarding the medal. The bill was sponsored by 334 representatives when it passed the House in June. It had passed the Senate in May with the support of 75 co-sponsors. The medal is bestowed for exceptional acts of service to the United States. During their service, the women tasked with every mission but combat. They were never awarded full military status and were ineligible for officer status. "We did it because our country needed us," 88-year-old Deanie Parrish of Waco, Texas, said at the ceremony. WASP were not granted veterans' status until 1977. The medal was custom-designed and printed by the U.S. Mint.

Airline Saves Guitar

A Canadian man says an extraordinarily generous charter airline not only saved the holidays of 900 stranded tourists, it also delivered his prized Takamine D Series guitar home after it went astray in the confusion. In late February, Ottawa-based charter operator Go Travel South went out of business leaving 900 customers, including Vince Thompson, scattered around the Caribbean. Kelowna, B.C.-based Flair Airlines, which had flown the Snowbirds south under contract to the charter company, went to pick them up at a cost to the airline of more than $300,000. Flair spokesman Chris Lapointe said rescuing the stranded vacationers was "the right thing to do" but Thompson said saving the guitar was above and beyond that.

Thompson checked the guitar as oversized baggage for his Feb. 23 flight but it got misdirected in the Cancun airport and didn't get put on the flight. Flair flew its last rescue mission to Cancun on Feb. 28 and the guitar was located and put on board. Thompson and the Takamine D were reunited the next day. "I picked it up at the Ottawa airport, examined the contents of the guitar case and found it to be in pristine condition, just as I had left it at Cancun," Thompson said in a letter to the Ottawa Citizen. Last year, Dave Carroll, a Canadian singer-songwriter became an Internet sensation with his music video "United Breaks Guitars" describing the destruction of his instrument on a flight to Nebraska and the subsequent handling of the incident by United Airlines.

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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.

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

Exclusive Video: Using a Portable GPS for Valley Flying — TAA Thinking

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

IFR magazine's Jeff Van West shows how a portable GPS can be used to evaluate what altitudes will be safe for flying up valleys (without actually changing altitudes) and how to use the GPS while in those valleys to enhance safety and situational awareness.

If you enjoy this video, be sure to check out our sister publication, IFR magazine.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Exclusive Video: Rudy Heeman's "Flying" Hovercraft

Original, Exclusive Videos from AVweb | Reader-Submitted & Viral Videos

New Zealander Rudy Heeman has, over 11 years, transformed his hovercraft into a wing-in ground effect vehicle, and now it's for sale.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Cub Love Explained

We're sorry to report that Paul Bertorelli is being treated for ADHS — advanced delusional hallucination syndrome. We're not sure if he's making progress, but you can be the judge of it by reading his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog.

It has something to do with a Piper J-3C.

AVweb Insider Blog: TSA Takes Military Turn

Does military intelligence translate to transportations security? AVweb Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles isn't sure, but he speculates on some of the challenges Robert Harding will face as TSA chairman in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog.

Read his thoughts and share your own here.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Above View (St. George, Utah)

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

Conoco-Phillips WingPoints || Best Rewards in the Business

AVweb readers continued to travel the length and breadth of North America this week, sending us notes about the best FBOs they discovered along the way. Our latest "FBO of the Week" award goes to Above View at St. George Municipal Airport (SGU) in St. George, Utah.

AVweb reader Jaime Votaw tells us how Above View stepped up to the plate when her husband made an unscheduled stopover:

My husband flew in tonight after needing to land aftet battling weather all day. This was an unexpected stop in a trip to Salt Lake City. I called in at about 8pm and someone answered the phone. It was obviously after hours, and the person who answered offered to run up the airport and get my husband a crew car so he could get to a local hotel. Up until Justin answered the phone, I had no idea what to tell my husnad to do. They are always friendly there, but this was way above and beyond for them to do. Thank you, Above View — you guys are great!

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!

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.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to Rod Anson of Camperdown, Victoria (Australia), who won 100,000 Air BP Bravo Rewards Points! (click here to get your own Rewards Points from Air BP)

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

We were a bit swamped at press time this week, but we'll have a fresh batch of pictures up on the site tomorrow — and in the Monday edition of AVwebFlash.

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.