AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 14a

April 5, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Pilots Require a Different Approach When It Comes to Buying Life Insurance
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Top News: Cockpits and Courtrooms back to top 

Judge Orders Epic Partnership

An Oregon federal judge has made bedfellows of strangers in a ruling aimed at forcing a partnership between a huge Chinese aviation company and a group of homebuilders, both of whom were trying to buy the assets of Epic Aircraft. Judge Randall Dunn accepted the $4.3 million cash bid for Epic from Aviation Industry Corp. of China on the condition that it sign an agreement allowing the LT Builders Group to run the facility in Bend, Ore. The builders' group is made up of former Epic customers whose unfinished Epic LT turboprop aircraft were stranded inside the builder assist facility in Bend when the company closed last summer. The judge said that if the builders and AVIC can't sign a deal by Thursday, he'll consider selling the whole works to a third bidder, Harlow Aerostructures, of Wichita. Builder Doug King said he and his group have been working since the ruling to try to reach agreement with AVIC but if that doesn't work out it may have to try working with Harlow. "This is a shotgun marriage proposal," King told AVweb. "The judge said 'You're going to get married, you just don't know to whom.'"

Harlow CEO Phil Friedman told The Oregonian he intends to negotiate directly with the LT Builders Group in an effort push the Chinese out of the way. The builders say the direction from the judge couldn't be more clear and they will try to cut a deal with the Chinese. AVIC didn't offer a comment, but the position imposed by the judge is polar opposite to the corporation's original proposal to move the whole operation to China. It would seem the only folks happy about the turn of events are representatives of the city of Bend. "I was pleased that the judge found a way to at least attempt to keep the business in Oregon and to re-establish the business, hopefully at the Bend airport," Gary Firestone, Bend assistant city attorney, told the Oregonian. "Putting some of those capable, talented people to work will be good."

Cirrus Drops Latest Suit Against L-3

Cirrus has sought "voluntary dismissal" of a lawsuit it filed in March against L-3 Communications for allegedly spreading rumors about Cirrus' financial stability, but has reserved the right to refile. L-3 had not yet filed a response to the suit. The suit had sought unspecified damages from L-3 and alleged the company was telling suppliers that Cirrus was headed for bankruptcy. Cirrus claimed the rumors were false and could disrupt their supply chain. The development doesn't mean the two will stay out of court. Last May, L-3 sued, claiming Cirrus owed it nearly $19 million per supply agreements. Cirrus then countersued, accusing L-3 of breaching their agreement. The two parties are expected to go to trial in December to settle that earlier suit.

Cirrus announced in March that its first-quarter sales were on pace to match its 2008 numbers (550 aircraft delivered) -- a sharp rise from the same period in 2009 (268 aircraft delivered). The company says its SR22 last year retained its title as the world's best-selling four-place aircraft for the seventh year, and this year the company has won more than 25 new reservations for its Vision jet. Company president and CEO Brent Wouters told Prairie Business Magazine his company's restructuring had dropped Cirrus' break-even point to less than half of its 2008 level, and "we're pleased with the momentum we're seeing on the sales side."

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.
Spotlight on Mental Health back to top 

FAA Changes Policy On Antidepressants For Pilots

The FAA announced Friday that it will, on a case-by-case basis, consider the special issuance of a medical certificate to pilots using medication for depression and will offer forgiveness for some previously undisclosed conditions. The change will take effect April 5, and applies to pilots using Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, or Lexapro. Special issuance medical certification will be considered only for pilots who have been "satisfactorily treated on the medication for at least 12 months," according to the FAA. Pilots who can't show a history will be grounded for at least that period. The FAA's forgiveness is limited to a six-month window. Pilots who previously did not disclosed to the FAA a diagnosis of depression, or the use of the above listed antidepressants, will not see civil enforcement action from the FAA if they report their condition within that timeframe. From that group, those who "have a medical history of successful treatment" should be able to fly "within a few months." Prior to April 5, pilots suffering from mild to moderate depression were barred from all flying duties.

The agency's adjustment is motivated by a "need to change the culture and remove the stigma associated with depression," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. He added, "I'm encouraging pilots who are suffering from depression, or using antidepressants, to report their medical condition to the FAA." The FAA's decision is consistent with recommendations from the Aerospace Medical Association, AOPA, ALPA and the ICAO.  Transport Canada, the Civil Aviation Authority of Australia, and the U.S. Army currently allow some pilots to fly while using certain antidepressant medications. "Pilots should be able to get the medical treatment they need so they can safely perform their duties," said Babbitt.

Related Content:

Depression in the Cockpit

File Size 10.6 MB / Running Time 11:40

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

It's already happening, and Dr. Brent Blue applauds the FAA for letting depressed pilots get the treatment they need.

AVweb Insider Blog: Better to Treat Depressed Pilots

The FAA's relaxation of rules for depressed pilots already generating discussion among aviators — and especially those aviators who work in medicine. Dr. Brent Blue joins us on the AVweb Insider blog with his take on the decision.

Click here to read more and share your own comments.

Business Aviation Will Help Companies Not Only Survive
But Prosper During the Current Financial Crisis

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Texas Airspace Goes Post-Presidential back to top 

P-49 Bush Ranch Prohibited Area To Shrink

The prohibited area (P-49) surrounding former President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, will shrink, effective June 3. On that day, the three nautical mile radius will reduce to two nautical miles and the ceiling will drop from 5,000 feet to 2,000. "We're doing this per a request from the Secret Service," FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford told the Associated Press. The previously prohibited airspace will be open to public use. Those who violate the remaining no-fly zone are likely to find themselves escorted to an otherwise unplanned landing and, perhaps, penalized.

The Secret Service is responsible for directing the changes. The FAA is responsible for implementing them. The Secret Service's determination follows a six-month security review of P-49, according to the FAA. The FAA has elected to take action without soliciting public comment because it restores airspace to public use and public procedures "would only delay the return of the airspace to public use." Those interested in the particulars can find them here.

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The Times, They Are A-Changin' (Part I) back to top 

Solar Impulse Steps Toward First Night Flight

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype, a uniquely solar-powered aircraft, has entered a new test phase, which should see the aircraft taking its first night flights this summer. The carbon fiber aircraft has been built with the intent to ultimately fly around the world, day and night, without fuel other than energy acquired from the sun. The new test phase follows on a successful first takeoff, last December, and will include short circuits and a first flight at altitude. Piloting the aircraft is described by the company as "an extremely difficult high-risk exercise." Two pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, will take turns in the test series to familiarize themselves with the plane, leading to the first night flights. According to the company, "never before has such a large and lightweight aircraft left the ground." NASA's Helios was larger and lighter, but did not carry a human being; it broke up in flight and crashed in the Pacific Ocean in June, 2003.

The Solar Impulse is a totally new 1600-kg carbon fiber aircraft, with a 63.4-meter wingspan. It carries four electric wing motors with a maximum 10 hp each. The aircraft's wing structure supports the motors and nearly 12,000 solar cells that feed them with renewable energy, storing any extra in 400 kg of lithium polymer batteries for night flight. The project involves specialists including engineers, air controllers and meteorologists who make up a 70-person mission team, backed by 80 partner companies. The team points out that their schedule and ambitions will ultimately be decided by technical and meteorological constraints beyond their foresight and control. The program has reached this stage following six years of work and simulation.

A380 Entertainment System Shows Tire Blowout

There was little ill effect when a Qantas A380 with 244 aboard blew two tires on landing at Sydney, Wednesday night -- except for that felt by passengers watching live on the aircraft's entertainment system. The aircraft is equipped with a tail-mounted camera and a live video feed of the landing was displayed on screens mounted in passenger seat-backs. Passengers engaged with those screens soon saw the orange glow of fire and sparks erupt beneath the left wing as the aircraft touched down, the tires failed, and the wheels began to grind on the runway. At least one passenger shot video of the event, including their own commentary and bleeped concerns.

The aircraft tracked straight and true on its remaining 18 surviving tires. When the superjumbo stopped, passengers were deplaned and taken by bus to the terminal. No injuries were reported, the problems were addressed and the aircraft was cleared for a Thursday-night trip to Singapore. Qantas blamed the blowouts on problems with the jet's braking system, calling the occurrence "very rare."

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Bad Day for Aircraft back to top 

Truck Smashes Hangared Aircraft

Click for larger image

Two California Dept. of Fish and Game aircraft were destroyed early Saturday when they were rammed by a runaway pickup. The aircraft (which we can't identify from the picture) were in a hangar at Hemet-Ryan Field in Southern California when the pickup came through the back wall and stacked them up against the hangar door. Before hitting the hangar, the truck sheared off a fire hydrant and went through a wrought iron fence. The mishap occurred at about 2:30 a.m. and the driver was nowhere to be found when emergency personnel arrived.

One report estimated the value of the aircraft, one of which was a high-wing twin, at about $1 million. They were used for tracking wildlife. At our deadline it wasn't known if the driver was hurt. Firefighters mopped up some spilled fuel at the scene.

Massachusetts Airport Closed Twice By Flood

For the second time in two weeks, Norwood Airport in Massachusetts has been closed by flooding and dozens of aircraft were stranded for the weekend. A storm that dumped six inches of rain on the region caused the Neponset River to flood and the airport was closed last Tuesday. By Thursday, water was up to three feet deep in some areas, local pilot Mike Young told AVweb. "There were actually fish on the runway," Young said. The FAA was scheduled to send engineers to the airport to examine the runways Monday. Meanwhile, a charter company is being criticized for allegedly defying an earlier flood closure to deliver two shipments of donor organs.

During the first flood, the airport was closed the night of March 15. On March 17, two Boston Air Charter flights departed with the donor organs and company's chief pilot, Douglas Lyons, told the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin the operations were safe. "We saw we had sufficient length and needed to get the organs out," Lyons said. "I thought the runway was safe. Four pilots said it was dry." The Norwood Airport Commission is considering "disciplinary action" against the company with member Kevin Shaughnessy urging some kind of censure. "Though the intention seems good, there are rules here and the reason we have them is for safety," he told the newspaper.


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The Times, They Are A-Changin' (Part II) back to top 

Aviation Apps for iPad

Although we're sure it's just the beginning, so far a cursory search of the Internet has turned up relatively few aviation apps for the new iPad. Apple's tablet went on sale Saturday and ForeFlight had its Mobile 3 HD setup ready to go for the launch. Since the app is compatible with iPhone, anyone already registered with their iPhone gets a free download for one iPad. ForeFlight says it's reworked the screens to take advantage of the high resolution available on Apple's latest big thing and includes all the usual features from airport diagrams to weather and charts. NavMonster is also launching its navigation package for iPad but the new wonder screen isn't just for the serious business of flight planning, much to the relief of gamers and sim addicts.

X-Plane has an app ready to go and downloadable from iTunes for $9.99. There are already a few reviews on the download page and all are favorable. There were lineups at most outlets selling the iPad Saturday and thousands went out the door.

Spruce Goes Green

In ceremonies this week at the company's Corona, Calif., headquarters, Aircraft Spruce & Specialty was recognized by the city for its recent green initiatives. Although the company has worked to streamline its processes and reduce waste, two recent programs are noteworthy. First is that Spruce began using cornstarch-based "packing peanuts" that are completely biodegradable. Second is the addition of an array of 525 solar panels to the roof of the Corona building. (They say the sun always shines in Corona.) Although the investment was $500,000, the immediate payback is a reduction in energy costs by 65 percent, according to company president Jim Irwin. Within four to five years, the panels will have paid for themselves.

Aircraft Spruce was so impressed with the solar-power program that it immediately had the same style of system installed at its Peachtree City, Ga., sister plant.

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

AVmail: April 5, 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: History Lesson

It's exciting that Helldiver wreckage has been found recently, both from the aspect of perhaps identifying some long-lost crewmen and because of the aircraft's rarity. Thanks for bringing us this news; I was just at Tillamook last fall, and the blimp hanger alone was worth the trip from Connecticut.

Helldivers gave short-lived but critical service in the Central Pacific theater, and it was a great pleasure to see the CAF's Helldiver fly recently.

However, I take issue with the "some" who credit it with "causing the destruction of more Japanese targets than any other aircraft of the war." Well, Naval aircraft, maybe. Fifth, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th Air Force B-25s (and Marine Corps PBJs!), plus the Doolittle raiders, flew combat from April 1942 to V-J day and struck at untold thousands of targets in all Pacific theaters, from the Aleutians to the Solomons and New Guinea, from Micronesia to Burma and China and everywhere in between.

A quick look at a globe will tell anyone that there had to be infinitely more targets hit by B-25s (the AAF's primary Pacific bomber) in the land-dominated CBI and SW Pacific theaters alone, not to mention the myriad ships hit by skip-bombing B-25 strafers, than in the tiny but admittedly target-rich islands peppering the Central Pacific. Please don't forget, like TV and movie productions have, that the Pacific war was not fought and won in the Central Pacific alone.

Harold Moritz

Mandatory Transponders

I can imagine that the application of transponders is a good [way] to upgrade safety, but the controllers should also follow.

Although we were flying with a Mode C transponder, the Dutch government made use of Mode S mandatory. The result is that, when flying in [a control zone] below 1,500 feet, where all GA traffic takes place, it is mandatory to turn off the transponder because controllers are not able to manage the traffic.

Ludo Huybrechts

I totally agree. If you can afford an aircraft, whatever type, you can afford the necessary safety equipment.

Ray Browell

I not only second that — I'd add the same requirement for comm radio for any aircraft using a public airport. If you can't report your position to other traffic, you shouldn't be allowed to use public airports. For the original Cub and Champ crowd — I love those planes — and similar, battery-operated works fine.

Malcolm Ruthven

It's not necessary to make them mandatory everywhere, since they are already required in the busiest airspace, where midairs tend to happen. ATC personnel usually filter out squawk code 1200 because of the congestion, so more transponders wouldn't make for safer skies on that account. Now, if more aircraft had a TCAS, that would help. Add some fixed-position transponders on mountain peaks, and you create terrain avoidance as well.

Stephen Mann

I must respectfully disagree with Tim Hodges' letter regarding mandatory transponders for all aircraft. Yes, it would be ideal if everybody used both transponders and TCAS. In such a situation, the chance of collisions would be virtually nil.

The reality is that unless everybody is always in radar contact and/or using TCAS, there will still be chances for midairs, even if everybody has transponders. I routinely fly several aircraft built without electrical systems that have no transponder, much less TCAS. I do not operate these aircraft in very congested airspace. I keep a vigilant eye out for traffic and accept the risk. I've had some very close calls while flying aircraft equipped with transponders.

As most VFR operations take place without flight following and most GA planes do not have TCAS, mandatory transponders will do little to decrease danger. I can certainly see placing reasonable limits on non-squawking aircraft, but to say every aircraft needs a transponder is cost-prohibitive and will do little to decrease the risk of midairs.

Those flying with TCAS still need to be vigilant and keep their eyes out of the cockpit from time to time. Every Cub, Champ, and Taylorcraft owner cannot be expected to install an electrical system, transponder, and TCAS.

Ryan Lunde

182 vs. 777

What I heard was an overly distraught 777 pilot. 1,500 feet of separation, albeit only 300 feet vertically at that altitude with visual confirmation, isn't that bad. Sure, it's trusting the 182 pilot, but dollars to donuts he has more experience than the 777 FO on the radio. I say the controller did a good job.

Mike Baum

This is another good non-story to a Bay Area pilot who transitioned SFO as a student from Day One. That was in no way a near miss, as all the small planes knew exactly where the big guys were and where they were going. It's called sightseeing and self-preservation from wake turbulence — and how can you miss a 777?

I hope this doesn't put any pressure on SFO to decrease transitions, since the coastal route is dicey, especially on foggy days, and OAK is a long way around.

Richard Garcia-Kennedy

Video Fan

[You are] funny, bright, great again with the pattern-flying video. AVweb is a great institution. Thanks for all that you all do.

Eric Waxman

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.

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 ERAU.edu/professionaleducation.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Exclusive Video: A Humorous But-Not-That-Gentle Look at Flying Traffic Patterns

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

If you like your aviation information to come straight out of the AIM, umm — this is not that. In this week's video, Paul Bertorelli takes a somewhat biting look into the heads of CFIs who teach their students to fly traffic patterns that would be too large for a Triple Seven.

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

Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Emporia-Greensville Regional Airport (KEMV, Emporia, VA)

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

Conoco-Phillips WingPoints || Best Rewards in the Business

Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the FBO at Emporia-Greensville Regional Airport (KEMV) in Emporia, Virginia.

Laura Hoover made a routine stop at the airport "late on a Saturday afternoon to get our Virginia Aviation Ambassadors passbook stamped." The service she and her passengers experienced, however, was anything but routine:

We were greeted by FBO manager Melvin Vick. When we were about to depart, we found we had a very flat main gear tire. Melvin offered tools and help even though it was closing time, recommended a place to get dinner, gave us the crew car, and met us back at the airport after dinner with more tools to try to get the tire off. We used the crew car overnight to go to a hotel, and the next morning Melvin met us again to lend a hand. The FBO is spotlessly clean and and has everything pilots need. We highly recommended it!

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 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)

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

This one may not have come over the radio, but it's a priceless cockpit exchange:

I was flying with a friend and his 7-year-old nephew a few weeks ago. After take-off, I was talking to departure control and was given numerous vectors and altitudes in the busy DFW airspace. After a few minutes, the youngster piped in with, "Would you please stop talking on your phone and pay attention to your flying?"

Ron Rubin
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.