AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 13a

March 29, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Sixth Annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association Proudly Salutes the Winners of the Sixth Annual Archie League Medal of Safety Awards
Named after America's first air traffic controller, these awards honor instances of exceptional skill, professionalism and dedication by our nation's air traffic controllers. From alerting aircraft to dangerous situations in the sky to expertly guiding private aircraft pilots in distress to safe landings, each of these winners has contributed to ensuring the safety of others. Click here to see the 2010 winners.
Top News: The Search Is Still On for New TSA Chief back to top 
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TSA Nominee Robert Harding Withdraws

Robert Harding, the latest nominee as head of the Transportation Security Administration, has withdrawn following revelations that his security consulting firm had been overpaid by the government. Harding, a former top military intelligence officer, owned Harding Security Associates, which an audit suggested had been overpaid $2.4 million for a contract to supply intelligence debriefers during the Iraq war. The company is also under scrutiny for a $100 million contract at Fort Belvoir for work on biometrics. That contract was awarded as part of a program to give work to businesses owned by service-disabled veterans. According to The Washington Post, Harding listed his disability as sleep apnea, a common disorder in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. "I felt that I could bring some leadership, vision and intelligence expertise" to the TSA, Harding said in a statement. "However, I feel that the distractions caused by my work as a defense contractor would not be good for this administration."

In the case of the Iraq contract, Harding told the Senate homeland security committee that his company reached a negotiated settlement with the government and repaid $1.8 million. "I'm convinced that I made a mistake," The New York Times reported Harding as testifying Thursday. "I lost sight of the fact that I also had to be cognizant of what was going on in my back room, in the accounting shop." The administration's first pick for the TSA post, former FBI agent Errol Southers, also withdrew from the nomination after questions arose about his using FBI assets to look into the background of his ex-wife's boyfriend. Harding's departure means the TSA will likely be without an administrator for at least a few more months but the White House issued a statement saying President Obama is "confident in the solid team of professionals at TSA."

Related Content:
AVweb's Russ Niles blogs about the search for a new TSA head on the AVweb Insider

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Help from ... Below? back to top 

Driver Credited For Facilitating Freeway Landing

A 1969 Champion 7KCAB landed on California highway 57 at about 7 p.m., Wednesday, near Pomona, without injury and without damage to a single vehicle, but with the help of one alert motorist. John Findley was alone in the plane en route from Long Beach to Upland, Calif., when he reported engine problems to controllers at Brackett Field, near Pomona. As Findley prepared for his freeway landing on the northbound lanes, he saw one driver begin to zig-zag, driving back and forth across the three freeway lanes. Findley believes the driver was attempting to warn other motorists of the potential danger and attempting to clear the roadway. Findley got the plane down and stopped without touching a single vehicle. One official told reporters it was the motorist's actions that were responsible for preventing a more substantial accident.

It is not clear how the motorist became aware of the aircraft, which was shown in photographs facing north in the northbound lanes of the highway, and the driver was not identified. After authorities arrived on the scene, one of three northbound lanes was opened to traffic. The aircraft sat for about an hour before being pushed up an off-ramp and then escorted by police as it taxied at least part of the way under its own power through side streets over the roughly 5 miles to Bracket field. Findley's landing strip freeway section was located between the Pomona freeway (Route 60) and the San Bernardino Freeway (Route 10) and roughly midway between the pilot's departure point and destination.

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Wreckage Raises Eyebrows — Real or Not back to top 

Fake "Plane Crash" Staged For Publicity

It's not War of the Worlds, but a Canadian television network won its share of scrutiny for choosing to promote a new program with a fake plane crash, Thursday, in Montreal. Thanks to the network, a bright yellow Cub-like aircraft was posed nose-down in the crushed roof of an SUV parked across from Montreal's Bell Centre, a sports and entertainment complex in the city. The network even managed artificial smoke to be pumped out of the conjoined wreckage as passersby who were informed of the promotion stopped to take pictures. "For us, it was just to create curiosity and suspense," Elise Beauchemin, director of communications for the French-language cable TV channel responsible for the stunt, told CBC News. Local police told the news source they had been informed of the stunt ahead of time and there was no local panic or danger, but media outlets had "flooded" the police station with calls of concern.

The network, Canal D, used the staged event to promote a new series on life-threatening close calls. Comments from people reacting to the story online ranged from concerns about traffic to "send anyone and everyone involved in this 'stunt' to jail with the parents of the 'balloon boy'" to "wow, must be a slow news day" and "I think it's all pretty cool." In the end, there were no injuries as a result of the staged event. The advertising sculpture, for lack of a better term, had been positioned at about 4:30 a.m. the same morning and remained on site all day.

Helldiver Wreckage Discovered in Oregon Woods

Wreckage of a Curtiss SB2C Helldiver single-engine dive bomber has been discovered in privately owned woods near Rockaway Beach, Ore., but its origins and crew remain to be identified. The World War II-era aircraft's wreckage was originally spotted by employees of a logging company on March 18. The wreckage covers approximately 200 yards and early responders did report the possibility of human remains at the site. Among the more clearly identifiable aircraft debris at the site are a wing, the tail section, and landing gear. Officials have not found any unexploded ordnance mixed in with the wreckage but are attempting to secure the site while the investigation continues. Navy personnel, in coordination with Oregon State Police and the county Sheriff's office, are working together on the investigation. The team has sought input from the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing In Action Accounting Command in Honolulu.

What was once the Naval Air Station at Tillamook is located nearly 20 miles from the crash site, but investigators have not yet determined if that was the aircraft's station of origin. The air station was decommissioned in 1948. The Helldiver was operated by a crew of two and could carry 2,000 pounds of bombs, depth charges, or an internally carried torpedo. It entered service in 1943, flying behind a 1,900-horsepower Wright Cyclone radial. Known by its crew as the "big-tailed beast," the World War II-era Navy plane has been credited by some as causing the destruction of more Japanese targets than any other aircraft of the war. The Commemorative Air Force believes it operates the world's only remaining flying example.

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Epic on Its Way to China? back to top 

China's AVIC Wins Epic Auction

An Oregon federal bankruptcy judge will decide Tuesday if a company owned by the Chinese government will take over the remnants of Epic Air and the companies associated with it. The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)'s bid of $4.3 million cash was selected over two American bids by bankruptcy trustee Ken Eiler following a daylong auction at a Portland law office on Friday. Also in the running were the LT Builders Group, representing the owners of unfinished aircraft still inside Epic's Bend, Ore., factory, and Wichita-based Harlow Aerostructures. Doug King, one of the members of the owners' group, told AVweb Saturday that they're spending the next three days preparing objections to the trustee's decision, which must be confirmed by the court during Tuesday's hearing. King said his group's bid was actually $2.2 million higher than the Chinese bid but included $4 million in credit to the owners. He said the trustee chose China's bid because it was all cash. The builders are worried they'll never have a chance to finish their aircraft if the Chinese bid prevails and most have already paid more than $1 million in progressive payments on their $1.7 million kit-built turboprop LT aircraft.

King noted the Chinese state clearly in a letter to the trustee that they plan to ship "all assets" of Epic and the associated companies "back to China to develop, manufacture and service general aviation and enhance the value of the aircraft models" developed by Epic. However, in an interview with The Oregonian, Yan Yang, the lawyer representing the Chinese, said AVIC might consider other options. "They want to enhance the value of the brand in this country," Yang said. "They're open to suggestions and working with people interested in the same goal." King said her comments offered some comfort but the written submission from AVIC still stands as its official position. The bankruptcy court hearing starts at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Portland.

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Aircraft Accidents Revisited back to top 

Search Resumes For Air France 447 Voice And Data Recorders

Having narrowed the search area to one-tenth its previous size, investigators will now search the ocean floor, again, for the data recorders of Air France Flight 447. The Airbus A330 was discovered on June 1, 2009, to have virtually disappeared into the Atlantic, off Brazil, with 228 aboard. Two prior expeditions to retrieve the cockpit voice (CVR) and flight data recorders (FDR) have failed. One of those included a nuclear submarine. The new expedition will employ three sonar-equipped robot submarines and two search ships, including the Anne Candies undersea research vessel. U.S. Navy sonar equipment will be used in a refined search area of about 770 square miles where the ocean ranges up to 13,000 feet deep. Though roughly 1,000 pieces of debris and 50 bodies were found in the initial search, the first wreckage was not spotted until it had been drifting for five days in the ocean. The new undersea search is expected to last at least four weeks. Without the recorders, investigators have warned that a more extensive understanding of the crash may not be possible.

Alain Bouillard, France's chief investigator at the time of the accident, is still on the case and has stated publicly that he's determined to find what led to the loss of the four-year-old jet. The search team has used data mined from thousands of fixed and drifting buoys analyzed by oceanographers and mathematicians to reduce the search area. But the team still runs the risk that the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, if found, will have suffered enough damage to make them unreadable. Bouillard is optimistic. Investigators believe examination of the wreckage shows that the jet was intact when it hit the water, violently, and then broke up. Flight 447 had been cruising at 35,000 feet when a last update was received from Captain Mar Cubois at 10:35 p.m.. After the jet crossed an area of turbulence it transmitted a burst of automated messages that gave rescuers a vague idea of where the jet was when its systems began to experience anomalies. The messages compose the last information provided from the aircraft as it flew.

Ex-BA Captain Talks About Heathrow Crash

The basic details are strikingly similar but the outcomes for the captains of two airliners that crash landed without loss of life couldn't be more different. On one hand, there's Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, sometimes called the Hero of the Hudson, who ditched his A320 in the Hudson River in Jan. of 2009. Sullenberger was able to retire early from an industry of which he was sometimes openly critical. Then there's Capt. Peter Burkill, the senior officer aboard British Airways Flight 38, which suffered an uncommanded dual engine rollback on short final and crash landed short of the runway at Heathrow Airport in 2008. Burkill recently broke his silence on the crash and has written a book on the topic. He says he resigned from BA due to persistent malicious rumors about his actions during the crash. He's now on welfare. In a podcast interview with AVweb's Glenn Pew, Burkill gives his description of the 30 seconds that preceded the crash and his role in its survivable outcome.

Burkill's account of the story has caused controversy on various pilot forums and in the mainstream media of his home in the UK. In a followup podcast, Burkill will describe the aftermath of the crash, the investigation and the work environment he says led to his resignation and his subsequent inability to find work.

Related Content:
Listen to our podcast interview with Burkill

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

AVmail: March 29, 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: Make Transponders Mandatory

How many [midair crashes] will it take before everything in the air has to have a working transponder? And if you can afford to fly, you can afford a transponder. Those of us who don't want to be hit by traffic we can't see will also buy some sort of TCAS.

Once you have one, you won't believe how many aircraft get really close to you without you seeing them. You will be totally blown away how often it happens when you are being "watched" on radar by your overworked ATC.

Tim Hodges

Leave LSAs Alone

I am the owner and president of PrimeAERO, Inc., the FBO at the Union County Airport (KMRT) in Marysville, Ohio, just outside of Columbus.

We have an active light sport pilot training program, using an Aeronca 7AC Champ, fully restored and modified to include an 85 hp engine with a full electrical system, radio, and transponder. This airplane flies as much, if not more, than any other airplane in our rental fleet.

We have trained several sport pilots and one light sport flight instructor in it. In addition, many pilots holding private or higher certificates fly it, either under the sport pilot rules or utilizing their existing higher-level certificates.

We are adding a new Tecnam Eaglet to our fleet to allow for sport pilot training, rental, and private pilot training in a modern, glass cockpit-equipped, tricycle-gear LSA.

I am not in favor of trying to raise the MGTW of LSA airplanes. I, for one, do not want to see the LSA movement become a graveyard of 40-plus-year-old Cessna 150s and 30-plus-year-old Cessna 152s. The modern LSA is a wonderful combination of economy and performance, as the Eaglet will outrun all but the newest 172.

In addition, there is no justification for any dream of buying a factory-new airplane equipped for flight in the modern airspace system for $40,000-$60,000. That is just totally unrealistic.

Let's leave good enough alone and enjoy the freedom that the sport pilot rules provide and the wonderfully capable new LSAs being produced.

Jerry Eichenberger

Reauthorization Questions

There are two provisions of the recent FAA authorization bill that I would be interested in hearing more about.

Regarding the 800 hours minimum for a first officer, my question is whether we'll eventually run out of pilots. Pilot training and building hours are more expensive than medical school. How many prospective pilots are willing to put in that much time to get to a right-seat job that pays less than $30,000 a year? Will the airlines have to finally offer an ab initio pilot training program that does not cost the prospective employee more than an MBA? Or is this the beginning of the push to unmanned commercial aircraft?

The news stories say the bill "prohibits electronic devices in the cockpit." I know the spirit of the law is to keep pilots off their cell phones while flying; however, are there unintended consequences? How does this affect the use of Class 1 and 2 EFBs, portable collision avoidance systems, handheld radios, etc.? And if you are using a moving map on your iPhone or, eventually, iPad, is that O.K.?

As always, thanks for the great coverage and special features.

Thomas Perkowski

Border Crossing

Regarding the story on the update of the electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) guide, I'm afraid that I don't understand the reasoning for all the paperwork.

If I live in, say, Buffalo, I can jump in the car and drive to Toronto for dinner and a show and just drive back at will. However, if I wish to use a J3, look at the paperwork. What is the great difference?

Gene A. Volz

Objects in an Off-Airport Landing May Be Larger than They Appear

The photo of the wrecked biplane on closer inspections sure looks like a model to me. Note the cockpit behind the windscreen is filled in and appears the same as the fuselage. Also, the tree trunk (back left) is gigantic in scale to the aircraft. Am I crazy?

Richard Humphrey

AVweb Replies:

Richard, I wouldn't suggest for a minute that you are crazy, but maybe a bit jaded by all the phony things that show up on the internet. Let me assure you the pictures are real. They were taken the day after the accident, and the cockpit covers had been snapped on prior to leaving it the previous day. Yes, the stump is huge. Thanks for your input.

Paul Schafer
pilot and photographer of the Starduster biplane in question

Kudos For Paul

I've recently seen the video featuring another competent, smart, experienced and wise aviator, Paul Bertorelli, flying around in his Cub. I plan to fly and use his example in my own personal flying.

One of the things I liked about the video was the inclusion of outtakes at the end. A bit of humor adds to the experience and learning in the video.


John Schmidt

Osprey Fan

I really enjoyed your interview with Major Wes Spaid on the Osprey, because I had the privilege to fly an Osprey simulator. In the Second World War, I flew B-25s, B-24s, and B-29s, then ran the Flight School at WMU and ended up flying as a weather research pilot. I think I am the oldest pilot to fly a V-22 — or least the simulator.

Lester M. Zinser

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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New on AVweb back to top 

The Crash of BA038

File Size 16.0 MB / Running Time 17:33

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Peter Burkill was captain of British Airways Flight 38, a Boeing 777 with 152 aboard, when it suffered an uncommanded dual engine rollback and crashed short of the runway at Heathrow on January 17, 2008. This is what he experienced, in his words.

Click here to listen. (16.0 MB, 17:33)

AVweb Insider Blog: Setting the Standard in Washington

There's a certain amount of discomfort that comes from discovering the top two picks, the cream of the crop, the best-of-the-best candidates for the leader of the Transportation Security Administration are a couple of guys you wouldn't want dating your sister. At least it's given AVweb editor-in-chief Russ Niles a moment's pause. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Russ explains why President Obama needs to go back to the drawing board in seeking a new chief for the TSA.

Click here to read more and share your own thoughts.

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

SpaceShipTwo Capture Flight Video

As we reported last week, Scaled Composites completed a successful test flight with SpaceShipTwo attached to Mothership Eve. The video wasn't available at our deadline last week but was recently released.

Exclusive Video: Garmin 430 Tricks and Secrets Revealed

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

If you have a Garmin GNS430, you probably know the basics — but in this video, IFR magazine's Jeff Van West reveals some ninja-level operating tricks that are practical and easy to master.

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

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Exclusive Video: Finessing the Rudder (An Exercise from Aviation Safety Magazine)

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

Aviation Safety is continuing its series on basic flying technique. We've looked at the aerodynamics of coordinated turns. In this video, Paul Bertorelli follows up with a simple rudder exercise that he can't seem to master — but you'll have no trouble with it.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: PAI Aero (Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, KBTR, LA)

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

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AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" is one we're adding to our own charts — PAI Aero at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (KBTR) in (where else?) Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

AVweb reader Dave Beckwith calls PAI simply "the best" FBO in the area. Sure, they have great customer service and good prices, but what made Dave take a moment to nominate them as an FBO of the week was something we don't normally hear about FBOs: "There's so much to see! Especially the FW190 restoration project."

A World War II warbird restoration to check out and gab about while refueling? It's true — learn more and watch video here — and probably quite the attraction at KBTR.

Have you visited an FBO that was first class all the way? Click here to nominate it as an "FBO of the Week." 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!

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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 WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather Receiver

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win an XM WX Satellite Weather receiver from WxWorx as we continue the celebration of AVweb's 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 April 9, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to Colleen Keller of San Diego, California, who won a Garmin 510 aera handheld GPS in our last drawing! (click here to get your own Garmin aera)

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

While flying an ADS-B test around NYC, I overheard this exchange:

"Airline 123, would you like the visual for 10?"

Airliner 123:
"Let me ask the Big Guy."


Airliner 123:
"That will be fine."

"Visual 10 for the Big Guy!"

B. J. Riester
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.