AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 14b (Revised)

April 8, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Top News: Clock Ticking on 100LL? back to top 
This is a re-send today's issue of AVwebFlash.
The original mailing experienced technical difficulties that caused the issue to appear mangled in some e-mail clients and to be cut short in others. This edition should display without either of those problems.
Our thanks to everyone who sent screenshots, forwarded their copy of the newsletter, and otherwise notified us of the display bug this morning!

Leaded Avgas Issue Moving To Front Burner

A notice from the Environmental Protection Agency concerning the future of 100LL is expected to be published within the next few weeks, EAA's Doug Macnair, vice president for government relations, told AVweb on Tuesday. The advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, or ANPRM, has already gone through the Office and Management of Budget, and publication in the Federal Register is the next step. According to the EPA Web site, the notice's regulatory review has been concluded and publication is projected for sometime this month. "This action will describe the lead inventory related to use of leaded avgas, air quality and exposure information, additional information the Agency is collecting related to the impact of lead emissions from piston-engine aircraft on air quality and will request comments on this information," according to the EPA Web site. The ANPRM is not expected to set a final date for the end of 100LL, but will likely seek input from the industry and the public to develop a transition plan so the fuel can be phased out, Macnair said.

The ANPRM publication is expected to energize efforts to address the lingering issue of finding a viable replacement for 100LL, which has been a topic of concern in the GA world for two decades or more. A lot of input from advocacy groups and manufacturers will have to be worked through to come up with a consensus standard and produce a fuel that will reliably meet the needs of general aviation airplanes, Macnair said. "It's going to be a painful process," he added. "There's no way around it." Plenty of contenders are already at work on a solution, including Swift Fuel, General Aviation Modifications (GAMI) and some engine and airframe manufacturers. The EPA has said it would like to see leaded fuel phased out as early as 2017, EAA's Earl Lawrence said in a February update. The issue was a topic of discussion last November at the AOPA Summit, and with the publication of the ANPRM, activity toward finding an alternative is expected to intensify in the coming season. AOPA, EAA, GAMA, NBAA and other aviation advocacy groups already have been at work on the issue as well.

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Breaking: Terror Threat a False Alarm? back to top 

Suspect "Subdued" By Air Marshal

Wednesday night, a man with diplomatic ties was reportedly subdued by a federal air marshal after he tried to light something on fire aboard United Flight 663, a Boeing 757 inbound to Denver from Washington Reagan, according to early (still vague) reports. Later reports suggested the man may simply have been trying to sneak a smoke before landing. ABC reported that the suspect, Mohammed al Modadi, held a position as 3rd secretary and vice-consul at the Qatar embassy in Washington and that the FBI said the position gave Modadi "full diplomat immunity." Two F-16 fighters were scrambled from Buckley Air Force Base to meet the flight as it flew its final 40 miles to a landing at Denver. The aircraft landed safely.

After the landing, the airliner was reportedly directed to a remote area of the airport and a team of explosives experts were summoned. First reports had suggested the episode may have been an attempted shoe bombing and that the air marshals restrained the man until landing. No conclusive determination regarding the event was available at the time AVweb went to press, but The Associated Press reported that no explosives were found on the man.

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Meanwhile, On the Leading Edge back to top 

NASA's Blended Wing Body Passes Controllability Test

NASA announced April 6 that its X-48B blended wing body remotely piloted scale model successfully met the challenges of low-speed controllability tests, bringing the quieter, more-efficient transport closer to full-scale reality. The most recent tests of the 8.5 percent scale (21-foot wingspan) 500-pound airplane follow some 80 previous flights and prove its flight computer can handle deliberate excursions from controllability at low speeds. The program is part of NASA's new Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project. The project's manager, Fay Collier, said, "The team has proven the ability to fly tailless aircraft to the edge of the low-speed envelope, safely." Compared with conventional airliners, NASA believes similar manta ray-shaped aircraft could one day provide operators with higher volume for passengers or cargo, a lower fuel burn and lower noise signature. Tests with the X-48B will continue later this year, as will tests of the X-48C, which has an even lower noise profile than the X-48B.

Key to the latest tests was the aircraft's flight computer and its programmed limiters. Those limiters were tested with deliberate excursions from defined boundaries of controllability at high angles of attack, sideslip and acceleration limits. Eight test flights convinced NASA that the limiters could provide "robust, versatile, and safe control" for blended wing body tailless aircraft. NASA's ERA project hopes to help further the technology before it is transferred to the industry. The X-48B first took flight on July 20, 2007.

Solar Impulse First "Real" Flight Tops 3,000 Feet

The solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse, which aims to fly around the world in 2012, was flown Wednesday over Switzerland by test pilot Markus Scherdel to an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) in a successful test flight. The aircraft's previous flight was limited to a 350-meter flight flown about one meter above the ground. On April 7, the 1600-kg aircraft stayed aloft for nearly 1.5 hours driven by four electric motors fueled (this time) by batteries alone. The motors generate a maximum output of 10 hp. The aircraft left the ground at about 28 knots, climbed to altitude and executed basic maneuvers designed to simulate the aircraft's first approach. Scherdel said the aircraft "behaved just as the flight simulator told us" and "the aircraft's controllability matches our expectations." The project plans to see its first day-night flight this summer and hopes that flight will last a full 36 hours flown on solar and battery power. There will be more testing, first.

Prior to a night flight, Solar Impulse will see a series of flights of increasing distance and duration. The effort's ultimate ambition is to fly the aircraft around the world on solar and battery power. The plan would see the flight made in a series of five hops flown in quick sequence, weather permitting. Led by Chairman Bertrand Piccard and CEO Andre Borschberg, the Solar Impulse project is as much of a demonstration of available technologies as it is a pursuit of a rapid transition to renewable energy sources, according to Piccard. Solar Impulse employs extensive use of carbon composites in its construction and has roughly 12,000 solar cells on its wings.

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Keeping 'Em Flying back to top 

NTSB Says FAA Search & Rescue Needs Improvement

The FAA needs to do a better job co-ordinating its search and rescue responsibilities, the NTSB said recently, to ensure that survivors of aviation accidents get help as quickly as possible. "The whole process needs to get nailed down a lot tighter than it is," NTSB radar expert Scott Dunham told the Associated Press. In a letter (PDF) to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, the safety board cited several cases when information readily available to FAA staffers was not communicated to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center as quickly or as clearly as it should have been. In one of several cases cited by the NTSB, a 2007 accident in Georgia, the pilot survived the crash of his Piper Tomahawk and activated an emergency transponder code. Due to miscommunications between the FAA and AFRCC, no search was launched until after the pilot's family reported him missing the following day. When the wreck was found, the pilot was dead. Four other cases cited, from 2006 to 2008, all involved general aviation aircraft.

The NTSB issued nine recommendations to the FAA for improving its search and rescue response, mainly to improve training and clarify procedures. Also this week, the FAA got some positive press for a safety program that is working well, in a USA Today story. The FAA's new no-fault error-reporting program for air traffic controllers has collected more than 14,000 reports since June 2008 that have helped to identify and address safety issues, the story says. Analysis of the reports has helped to reveal trouble spots in routings, procedures, and airport surface markings. "This [program] is a way for us to get new sets of eyes and ears in a lot of places," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said. "I think everybody agrees there will be a safer system in the long run."

NTSB: Neglected Tires Started Learjet's Fatal Accident Chain

The operator of a chartered Learjet 60 failed to properly maintain its tires, starting a chain of events that ended with a deadly crash in Columbia, S.C., in September 2008, the NTSB said on Tuesday. All four of the main gear tires were severely underinflated, which compromised their integrity. The first tire failed about 1.5 seconds after the airplane reached V-1, the maximum speed at which the takeoff could be safely aborted. The captain's decision to then attempt a high-speed rejected takeoff "went against standard operating procedures and training," the NTSB said. Making things worse, the tire failure damaged a sensor, which caused the jet's thrust reversers to return to the stowed position. While the captain was trying to stop the airplane by commanding reverse thrust, forward thrust was being provided at near-takeoff power because the thrust reversers were stowed, contributing to the severity of the accident. "This entirely avoidable crash should reinforce to everyone in the aviation community that there are no small maintenance items because every time a plane takes off, lives are on the line," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman.

After the airplane left the departure end of Runway 11, it struck airport lights, crashed through a perimeter fence, crossed a roadway and came to rest on a berm. The captain, the first officer, and two passengers were killed; two other passengers were seriously injured. The Safety Board also found that neither the FAA nor Learjet adequately reviewed the airplane's design after a similar uncommanded forward thrust accident that occurred during a landing in Alabama in 2001. As a result of its investigation, the safety board made 14 recommendations to the FAA, suggesting changes in maintenance procedures, pilot training, and manufacturers' methods of safety analysis.

FAA AD Targets Thielert Engines

As if they didn't have enough troubles already dealing with excessive costs and a manufacturer in bankruptcy, owners of Thielert diesel engines now must cope with a proposed new Airworthiness Directive that could cost them another $1,600. The FAA posted the proposed AD on Monday, citing a problem with an oil separator that could fail, leading to an in-flight power loss or possible shutdown due to excessive gas pressure. The problem was found in servicing, and the FAA didn't note any cases of actual failure. About 250 of the Thielert engines have been installed in Diamond twins, some Piper Cherokees, and Cessna 172s in the U.S. Owners must take care of the problem within 110 flight hours of the effective date of the AD. Comments will be accepted on the proposal until May 20.

The Thielert engines proved to be expensive to maintain, and service was slow and difficult. Some of the fleet has been effectively grounded. Diamond, based in Austria, recently reintroduced its twin-engine DA42 with a choice of its own Austro diesel engines or a traditional Lycoming IO-360. Owners of the Thielert versions can trade them in for new engines, but at a cost of over $100,000.

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News Briefs back to top 

Trouble At Angel Flight Northeast

Trouble has been brewing for a while in the administration of Angel Flight Northeast, but now the organization's survival appears at risk, according to a Boston Globe story. The story details a conflict between the nonprofit organization's board of directors and Lawrence Camerlin, the group's founder and executive director. After Camerlin hired his daughter as a community outreach worker, he later fired a director who had raised questions about her duties and pay. The daughter was eventually taken off the payroll, but in January, Camerlin fired the entire board. He told the Globe he did so after the directors raised the possibility of lawsuits. "We felt they were in violation of their fiduciary responsibilities," he said. "They wouldn't give us information about claims likely to be filed against us." The directors were stunned, according to the Globe. Although the group is continuing to organize charitable flights, donors now are skittish about funding the group and both sides have complained to authorities that the other side acted improperly, the Globe reported.

Angel Flight Northeast has been operating since 1996, and is based at Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Andover, Mass. Since its inception, volunteer pilots have flown over 8 million miles, completing an average of 100 missions per week, according to the group's Web site. According to Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator, the group raised about $1.2 million in 2007, and earned the highest rank, a four-star rating.

Lindbergh Foundation Auction Offers Aviation Items

An aerobatic flight with the legendary Sean Tucker or a ride with Kermit Weeks in his P-51 are two of the unique experiences available to bidders in this year's Lindbergh Foundation online fundraising auction. Other prizes include a 10-day African safari, a day at King Schools with John and Martha King, aviation gear from Garmin and Forward Vision, and a bronze sculpture donated by Erik Lindbergh. Bidders can send in bids via e-mail until Tuesday, April 13. On the 14th, a live auction will be held at the foundation's annual award celebration at Sun 'n Fun, in Lakeland, Fla. The highest price from the online bidders will be announced at the live auction, and if no higher bid is received, the online bidder will win.

"We are extremely grateful to our thoughtful and generous donors for making these extraordinary opportunities available to Lindbergh Foundation supporters around the world," said Honorary Chairman Reeve Lindbergh. "The combination of the award event, Lindbergh Foundation Day (April 15th), and the Sun 'n Fun venue will create excitement in the aviation community, and will serve to generate additional interest in Foundation mission and programs." The auction raises money to support the foundation's work supporting research and education aimed toward promoting a balance of technology and environmental protection.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

New York's Fourth Airport Gets Customs

Click for larger image

New York City's "fourth" airport, Stewart International, is getting a temporary Customs and Border Protection facility as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey looks for ways to expand service. Stewart International is a former air base about 60 miles north of the city in the Hudson Valley. It has the runways to handle any size aircraft but airline service is limited to a few flights to mainly Northeast destinations. The Port Authority hopes the availability of Customs service will attract overseas charter service.

The Customs station will be set up in the current baggage claims area but plans call for a permanent facility by 2012. The Port Authority is already in discussions with charter operators with an eye to bringing shopping and spring break tourists to the city. The facility will only be staffed when flights are scheduled to arrive but could lead to a regularly staffed inspection station as traffic warrants.

U.K. Group Calls For BizAv Fuel Tax

A British environmental group says business aircraft should pay a fuel tax currently charged airline passengers. The Air Passenger Duty is part of every airline ticket but the Campaign for Better Transport says business aviation passengers don't pay it even though they have a much larger environmental footprint than the average airline passenger. Although bizav is a soft target for the environmental movement, pronouncements such as this might carry a bit more weight as the U.K. heads to the polls May 6.

In the organization's aviation blog, the writers call on the government to close the "loophole" and note that 67,000 fuel tax-free business aviation flights occurred last year. EasyJet, Britain's largest budget carrier, is jumping into the fray and commissioned a study last year, that, to no one's surprise, found the majority of its passengers think private operations should be subject to the tax. The Campaign for Better Transport says the tax should be imposed for environmental reasons, claiming that business aircraft passengers create as much as 30 times the pollution, per capita, as airline pax. "Charging fuel duty on these ultra-polluting aircraft wouldn't raise enormous sums of money, but it would make sure that all flights were held accountable for the damage they cause to the environment," the group says.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Eclipse — Shoulda Worked, Still Can

From the ashes of the old Eclipse, a new company is emerging. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli is as cautiously optimistic about Eclipse Aerospace as anyone. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, he explains why. (Hint: The company's different, but the jet is the same.)

Click here to Paul's blog and chime in with your own opinions.

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.

AVweb Insider Blog: Aviation Reporting — Bad to the Bone

There are plenty of examples of bad aviation reporting in the mainstream media, but AVweb's Mary Grady came across one of the worst recently — a mish-mash of inaccuracy made worse by bad timing and a poor understanding of airplane stalls. Mary shares the details on the AVweb Insider blog.

Click here to read her take on the story and share your own thoughts.

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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)

Click Here to Take a Quick AVweb Survey
Got a Moment? We'd Like to Hear from You
At AVweb, we rely on our readers to assist us in making all different kinds of decisions. We greatly appreciate your input and could use it now. Please take a moment to help by participating in this anonymous readership survey. Click here to answer a few short questions.

If you've already responded to the e-mail we sent to all AVwebFlash subscribers, no action is needed.
Thank you for your participation!
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!

New on AVweb back to top 

Question of the Week: Antidepressants and Aviators

This Week's Question | Previous Week's Answers


Last week, we asked AVweb readers if they'll be attending either of the major U.S. summer aviation shows (Sun 'n Fun and AirVenture), just local air shows, or some combination of the two. We'd like to report a seismic shift in air show attendance plans from the last time we aked this question, but there isn't one. Your choices rant the gamut — though we were a little disappointed that only twelve readers (at press time) had indicated they would be attending both major shows and as many local events as they could get out to.

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


Last week, the FAA decided to relax the rules on anti-depression medications. What do you think?

Do you support the FAA's decision to allow special issuance certificates for pilots (undergoing treatment) with well-controlled clinical depression?
(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.

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.

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

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 time next week, we'll be at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In — and may in fact be too busy gawking at real airplanes to get in our normal quota of drooling over your photos. But don't let that discourage you! Keep sending those photos, because we may actually find time to squeeze in "POTW" next Thursday — and if not, we'll catch up on the following week.

medium | large

copyright © Martin Traverso
Used with permission

Super Decathlon Taking off from PAO

Some weeks, picking a single photo is downright painful. Martin Traverso of Menlo Park, California landed in our top spot today, but only after numerous second guesses and at least two coin flips. Despite stiff competition among the top three photos, this one dutifully noses ahead — and yes, it is currently our desktop wallpaper image.

medium | large

Used with permission of Douglas Johnson

KC-97 Cockpit

"Fisheye view of the cockpit of a KC-97 training rig," courtesy of Belmont, North Carolina's Douglas Johnson. (See what we meant about the stiff competition?) "It is an actual cockpit" writes Doug, "but is now separate from the rest of the aircraft ... on display at the Carolinas Aviation Museum at CLT."

(Psst — Doug's got an awesome photo stream on Flickr, which he reminded us of in his comments.)

medium | large

Used with permission of Kelly Dickens

Blue Angels Break

Kelly Dickens of Houston, Texas capture this image at the Wings Over Houston air show last October — and man, does it ever get us in the mood for Sun 'n Fun! (Thanks for being the unofficial harbinger of summer around the AVweb offices, Kelly.)

medium | large

copyright © Gilbert Benzonana
Used with permission

Be Careful Stripping Sailplanes — They May Bite!

Don't panic! No A&Ps were harmed in the making of this photo. Gilbert Benzonana of Grand-Lancy, Geneva (Switzerland) was shooting a few routine photos while the mechanic checked out this sailplane. When he went back through the pictures later, he discovered this rather grisly scene caused by some paint "left by chance" — and which, we notice, matches the aircraft's detailing.

medium | large

copyright © Ricky Barnard
Used with permission

Fly Me to the Moon

"Caught another Delta flying by the moon tonight," Ricky Barnard of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma tells us in his journal-like comments. "I get bored a lot."

'S O.K., Rick — your boredom helps fight off ours!

We'll have some bonus pics up in the slideshow AVweb's home page Thursday afternoon. (We're running a little slow this week, with all the prep work for Sun 'n Fun.) Think of it as one last chance to check out the current batch before we swap 'em out with the new ones.

Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

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.

Names Behind the News 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.

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.