AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 15a

April 12, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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Top News: "Spring Break for Pilots"! back to top 
 

Sun 'n Fun Promises Lively Start To Show Season

For the next week, Lakeland, Fla., will be the center of the aviation universe, as the little airport becomes the busiest field in the world, with more than 40,000 takeoffs and landings expected during Sun 'n Fun. Tuesday, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will thunder in, and they will fly again Thursday through Sunday. Each afternoon the skies will fill with aerobatic performers and flight demonstrations of new and unusual aircraft, with a night airshow on Friday. More than 450 educational forums, seminars and workshops will take place during the week, and more than 500 exhibitors will display aircraft of all kinds and other products and services of interest to aviators. Among the guests who will be giving talks are Jeff Skiles, first officer in the "Miracle on the Hudson" ditching (click here to view Paul Bertorelli's recent interview with Skiles), and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. AVweb staffers are already on site, ready to bring you daily reports, videos, and podcasts with all the latest news from the field.

More than 150,000 visitors from around the world are expected to visit during the week, and the field is expected to fill with close to 5,000 aircraft. A gathering of seaplanes takes place at the nearby Fantasy of Flight facility, with a special splash-in event on Thursday. Airshow performers include Patty Wagstaff, Matt Younkin, Kyle Franklin, the Red Eagles, and many more. Forums offer a wide range of topics, such as how to improve your flying skills, how to buy an airplane, or how to build one. Experts present detailed introductions to new products and technology. Stay tuned for AVweb's daily updates during the show.

 
Pilot Insurance Center
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Reports and Analysis back to top 
 

NTSB: Crash Figures Improve, But GA Rates Worsen

The NTSB's preliminary statistics for 2009 show an overall decrease in aviation accidents and fatalities, and "best in decades" figures for on-demand Part 135 operations, but accident and fatality rates for general aviation are up. General aviation's accident rate increased from 6.86 to 7.2 per 100,000 flight hours from 2008 to 2009, and its fatal accident rate increased from 1.21 to 1.33. The rate increases were "due to the decrease in total flight hours," according to the NTSB. GA dropped from 22.8 million hours in 2008 to about 20.46 million hours in 2009. General aviation is responsible for the lion's share of civil aviation accidents, accounting for 1,566 of 1,658 in 2008 and 1,474 of 1,551 in 2009. Of 566 total civil aviation fatalities in 2008, GA was responsible for 494. For 2009, the NTSB's preliminary figures list 534 fatalities, of which GA accounts for 474. Total fatal general aviation accidents fell slightly from 2008 to 2009, posting 275 and 272, respectively.

On-demand Part 135 operations saw its best numbers in two decades, reporting 47 accidents in 2009 with 17 fatalities. That compares with 58 accidents in 2008 that caused 69 fatalities. The segment's accident rate fell to 1.63 per 100,000 flight hours from 1.81 in 2008. There was only one fatal accident involving a Part 121 operator last year -- Colgan (Continental Connection) Flight 3407 that crashed outside of Buffalo. The NTSB's available data can be obtained online, here.

Report Reveals Travels Of "Blocked" Aircraft

ProPublica, the news organization that won a court case in February to force the FAA to release aircraft tracking information previously kept secret, has released the results of its investigation in a story published on its own Web site and on the front page of Friday's USA Today. ProPublica said the aircraft operators who requested secrecy could do so for any reason, and the system could be used by corporations and government agencies to avoid scrutiny and bad publicity. "The owners don't have to meet any test to keep their flights secret," says the article. "They merely submit a request to the National Business Aviation Association, a trade group that lobbied to set up the program on the grounds that secrecy is justified to protect business deals and the security of executives." ProPublica said its investigation showed that a televangelist had flown his "tax-exempt jet" to Maui, and several "owners of newspapers that have fought for access to public records" also had corporate jets in the program. Among those media companies is Gannett, which owns USA Today.

Dan Hubbard, spokesman for NBAA, said competitive concerns, as well as security, drive the need for the system, called the Block Aircraft Registration Request program, or BARR. Aircraft owners submit their requests to NBAA, which then forwards the information to either the FAA or directly to flight-tracking Web sites, such as FlightAware. In February, a district court in Washington, D.C., ruled there was no reason the FAA should not release the BARR data in response to ProPublica's request under the Freedom of Information Act. NBAA had asked the court to block the release, citing security concerns. The court decision does not permit the disclosure of real-time flight data, historical data, or operator names. However, the tail numbers are released. Also, the FOIA ruling does not apply to information given directly by NBAA to the flight-tracking Web sites.

 
National Air Traffic Controllers Association || The Safety 
Professionals Who Guide You Home
Keeping Our Airspace Safe
Over 14,000 strong, the members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association are aviation safety professionals whose skill and professionalism help keep our National Airspace System moving safely and efficiently.

Find out more at NATCA.org and read about our annual Archie League Medal of Safety award winners, many of whom assisted general aviation pilots who needed help to land safely.
 
Leading Edge: Today's Top Planes ... back to top 
 

Diamond's DA42 NG, FAA/EASA Certified

Diamond Aircraft's twin-engine DA42 NG, powered by two 170-hp Austro AE-300 turbo-diesel engines, Friday received FAA certification and is approved for both IFR and FIKI (flight into known icing) operations. The aircraft offers single level power, plus improved performance, increased gross weight and better fuel efficiency than its predecessor, the DA42 TDI, according to Diamond. It also offers potential buyers an alternative to the Lycoming-powered version and a diesel power replacement possibility for those flying the aircraft with now-bankrupt TAE's engines. Diamond is presently setting up service and support infrastructure for the NG in North America and "will shortly be announcing the details of an all-inclusive maintenance program" for NG owners. Attendees can expect to see the DA42 NG decked out in its Garmin GFC 700 autopilot and G1000 avionics trimmings at Sun 'n Fun, April 13-18.

Diamond's DA42 NG sports an all-carbon airframe a 152-knot TAS economy cruise capable for more than 710 nm while burning less than 10.5 gph total from both engines. It seats four and has an empty weight of 3,119 pounds with a maximum takeoff weight of 4,189 pounds. Diamond says it pursued certification for the new airframe/powerplant combination in part to help support customers who already purchased the aircraft with TAE engines. "Quite frankly, we couldn't predict if and when TAE would emerge from bankruptcy protection and therefore it was in our customer's best interests that we pursued TAE independent alternative solutions to support maximum value of previously delivered aircraft," the company wrote in a news release.

 
Lancair Evolution || Click to Learn More
You Might Think, "Build My Own Airplane? I Can't Do That" — Yes, You Can!
With Lancair's Builder Assist program and proper guidance, you can build your own Pratt and Whitney PT6- or Lycoming iE2-powered Evolution in as little as one year. You will own and fly the best performing pressurized SE anywhere, and you could save a million bucks by doing it. Click here to find out how.
 
... And What May Be Tomorrow's Top Airplanes back to top 
 

An Epic Deal Between Builders Group, Chinese Company

Facing a judge's deadline to either come to terms or see the remains of Epic Aircraft go to a third party, a Chinese aviation company and a group of Epic LT builders have sealed a deal. China Aviation and the LT Builders Group together will pay $4.3 million for Epic's assets. The builders will retain the rights to sell the LT single-engine turboprops in the North American market, while the Chinese have rights to the rest of the world. Douglas King, a member of the LT Builders Group, said they plan to reopen the Epic facility in Bend, Ore., and continue with kit production and builder assistance. "We intend to run it honest and straight, according to the law, be good neighbors here in Bend," King told Kitplanes editor Marc Cook. "We're going to do what we say … and not over-promise. We are going to work really hard at producing high-quality airplanes."

The bankruptcy court still must give final approval to the deal. Then the builders must start negotiations with the lease-holder of the hangar where all of their unfinished aircraft remain under lock and key, to resolve issues of unpaid rent and get the operation going again. But the builders group was excited about the deal. "We did it!" Daryl Ingalsbe, another member of the builders group, told The Oregonian. "We kept control of this wonderful company in the United States." According to KTVZ.com, the group hopes to eventually attain FAA certification for the LT.

Cessna Working To Streamline Skycatcher Production

Cessna is working to accelerate deliveries of its 162 Skycatcher and iron out production-line inefficiencies caused by the addition of airframe modifications that resulted from spin testing, the Wichita Eagle reported Friday. Currently, Cessna has its Skycatchers produced by Shenyang Aircraft Corp. in China. Those aircraft are then shipped to Yingling Aviation for reassembly. From there, aircraft go to Cessna for modifications borne from the spin test program, and then they go back to Yingling for flight tests and delivery. Shenyang is expected to build a new facility in 2011, which will eventually produce the Skycatcher light sport aircraft with the modifications incorporated directly into the production line. For now, Cessna says Skycatcher output in 2010 will improve, but they're not saying by how much.

Cessna delivered 354 piston aircraft last year and is somewhat optimistic about improving that number in the near term. Cessna's vice president for worldwide propeller aircraft sales said, "We see a number of indications that the general economy may be stabilizing and that should eventually translate into a return to growth in the piston market." But the company is expecting only a small improvement in sales through 2010, reserving its forecast for real improvement to sometime in mid-2011.

 
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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.

 
Premier 
Aviation & Equestrian Community || Click Here to Book Your Tour
Phase 1 Is Complete — Including Utilities, Services, and Infrastructure!
Big South Fork Airpark is proud to announce the completion of Phase 1 and properties available for sale! Our roads are in. This includes the welcome center, underground utilities, city water and sewer services, electricity, natural gas, fiber-optic DSL, roads, hangars, apron, direct taxiway access, stables, and equestrian center. Join us May 15-16 for a Spring Weekend Adventure! Stay at one of our luxury houses, indulge in a gourmet meal, and enjoy all of the amenities the Airpark has to offer. A hangar and rental car are included. All for only $99. Space is limited. Click here to schedule your Spring Weekend Adventure today.
 
We've Been Busy — Don't Miss Our AEA Coverage back to top 
 

Aircraft Electronics Association Video Round-Up

AVweb was on-hand for the 2010 Aircraft Electronics Association show in Orlando, Florida. Here's an overview of our video coverage (with individual links), and you can click here for an index of our complete 2010 coverage in one place.

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

Watch all of our AEA 2010 videos in the player above or click these thumbnails for individual videos:

 
Q: What's the Difference Between a $10,000 Annual and a $2,500 Annual?
A: SAMM

Mike Busch and his team of seasoned maintenance professionals are saving their aircraft-owner clients thousands of dollars a year in parts and labor — not to mention hours of hassle — by providing professional maintenance management for owner-flown singles and twins. Learn how they do it.
 
Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Jeff Skiles — How to Handle Fame? Ignore It

On a cold Thursday morning 15 months ago, Jeff Skiles was just another anonymous first officer making a routine flight from LaGuardia to Charlotte. By the end of the day, he was a household name. Paul Bertorelli met and spoke with Skiles at AEA and reflects on how fame has(n't) affected him on the AVweb Insider blog.

Click here to read more.

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.

 
AERO EXPO EUROPE 2010 - Prague, 28-30 May || 
AERO EXPO UK 2010 - London, 25-27 June
Experience AeroExpo Europe, 28-30 May 2010
Europe's Festival of Aviation brings visitors a dedicated weekend of general aviation at its finest. With new features designed to cover as many aspects of general aviation as possible, visitors will have the opportunity to Compare, See, Try and Buy at Europe's Festival of Aviation. Pribram Airfield, LKPM.

Click here for more information.
 
Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversary back to top 
 

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win Scheyden Frames and Flight Gear

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win Scheyden Dual RX frames and Flight Crew Ensemble flight gear 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 April 30, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

 
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: Central Jet Service (Marshall, TX)

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

Conoco-Phillips WingPoints || Best Rewards in the Business

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Central Jet Service at Harrison County Airport (KASL) in Marshall, Texas.

AVweb reader James M. Knox described Central Jet as "just your ordinary small town FBO at a small airport — except that these fine folks simply fall all over you to be helpful. With more and more FBOs populated by tired attendants who may or may not acknowledge your existence when you arrive, these people are a breath of fresh air."

Keep those nominations coming. For complete contest rules, click here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!

 
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
 

"Picture of the Week" Reminder

Remember: We probably won't get a chance to run new "POTW" pictures this week while we're at Sun 'n Fun — but we did load up the slideshow on AVweb's home page with a couple dozen great pics to tide you over! Be sure to check them out — and if you're not lucky enough to be here in Lakeland with us, we encourage you to pass the week by submitting some of your own photos for next week's "POTW."

 
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

I was on my way to a fly-in at KMPV last Saturday, VFR on flight following with Boston Center. It was quite busy. Over 60 planes from all over New England were converging (some IFR, some VFR) when I heard one pilot check on by asking whether that was the correct frequency and, "Do you control this airspace?"

Without hesitation, the very helpful, friendly, and very busy controller replied, "In your location, I own from the surface up to God."

I wonder how high that goes. Is that Class G airspace?


Jim Quinn
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:

Publisher
Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Features Editor
Kevin Lane-Cummings

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributors
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.