AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 20a

May 17, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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DOT Announces Future Of Aviation Committee

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has announced the newly formed Future of Aviation Advisory Committee that may help form changes in the country's aviation policies. The committee, which was put together in March, will have its first public meeting on May 25, in Washington. It is made up of representatives from the airlines, airports, general aviation, manufacturers and labor, but also includes environmental, academic and financial experts. And it seeks to provide recommendations to the Secretary that will ensure the competitiveness of the U.S. aviation industry. The group's members will focus on America's competitiveness in aviation with a focus on safety, viability, environmental challenges and solutions, funding for aviation systems and the aviation workforce. The May 25 meeting is open to the public -- providing you've registered in advance.

The May meeting is set to be the first of at least three additional meetings to culminate in delivery of recommendations to LaHood. Participants include Cessna president and CEO Jack Pelton among representatives from JetBlue Airways, Goodrich Corporation, Boeing, and more. The public is welcome to attend but interested parties must register in advance via e-mail. To find at how to attend, click here and scroll to the last two paragraphs on the page. Information on how to find minutes of meetings and related documents is listed on the last line.

Boeing's "F/A-XX" Aims For Future Fighter Contracts

The Navy has its eyes on next-generation replacement fighter aircraft that may be needed as early as 2025 to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, and Boeing has publicly unveiled its latest design proposals. Boeing's two twin-engine concepts are both tailless vehicles that may also be mission-capable as pilot-optional aircraft. Boeing displayed one at the Navy League Sea Air And Space Expo on May 3, as a 1/16th scale model and the latest manifestation of its F/A-XX. The design's planform reflects that of the single-engine Phantom Ray, a stealthy unmanned tailless 50-foot-wingspan Phantom Works prototype unveiled on May 10, in St. Louis. Boeing is seeking to fill the Navy's desire for "next generation air dominance," after losing out on the massive Joint Strike Fighter contract won by Lockheed Martin. Decisions that would lead to the creation of technology demonstrators for the next round of aircraft may begin in late 2011 and lead to competition between prototype designs by 2013.

Programs like this not only feed the next generation of military preparedness but also keep the coals burning for Boeing, which lost out when Lockheed Martin in 2001 won its contracts for the Joint Strike Fighter. With that aircraft currently in the works and not yet operationally deployed, Boeing's next chance to see its own fighter design contracted and operational may be at least 15 years away upon the predicted retirement of the Super Hornet. Like the Navy, the U.S. Air Force is also already looking ahead for the vehicle that will replace the F-22, which presents another opportunity for Boeing and its competitors.

Analyst: Airbus A380 "A Program In Trouble"

Five years after the A380's first test flight, Airbus is 2 1/2 years behind on deliveries of the double-decker superjumbo, and an estimated 200 orders short of turning a profit on the design. Until the break-even point, supporting the program will be a drag on Airbus as a whole. Airbus delivered just 10 of the aircraft in 2009 and is hoping deliveries exceed 20, this year. The A380 has earned just one new airline customer since the aircraft's commercial life began in 2007 and the aircraft is costing Airbus about 50 percent more to produce than it had originally projected. In the words of analyst Gerard Buhrer, the A380 "is a program in trouble" due to low sales, high purchase price, few available destinations and few customers positioned to make use of the aircraft's design capability. According to Buhrer, the A380's development costs can not be recovered, but government loans must be repaid and stopping the program may cost more than continuing it. So, says Buhrer, Airbus may find itself having to accept that the program will never generate profits and that the A380's costs must be absorbed by other Airbus programs, "driving down overall profits."

According to Buhrer, canceling the A380 would cost more in severance pay and benefits to support the workers who would be laid off than does the expense of keeping the program alive. Wrapped up in the complexities of A380 economics are the strength of the dollar (which pays for completed aircraft), the strength of the euro (which pays for labor to build the aircraft) and the state of the world economy. Buhrer says that the aircraft's development costs have been lost, never to be recovered, and concludes that "the A380 was a mistake," adding that it "will never sell well and cost Airbus lots of euros." But canceling the program could cost Airbus even more -- in cash, customers, and prestige. Says Buhrer, "Keep building and getting cost out is their only option right now." According to Airbus CFO Hans Peter Ring, "We are still trying to reduce the amount of outstanding work on the A380, but we are making good progress." "Certainly there is hope that at the end of the planning horizon we are approaching break-even."

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Safety & Security back to top 

Airliner Bomb Threat A Hoax

Canadian officials say an alleged bomb threat aboard a Cathay Pacific A340 flying from Hong Kong to Vancouver was a hoax. Two Canadian Forces CF-18 fighters, under the control of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), escorted the plane to a safe landing at Vancouver International Airport Saturday afternoon. The aircraft was towed to a remote area of the airport with the passengers still on board. The fighters didn't land with the airliner and returned to their base at Comox, about 60 miles northwest of Vancouver.

NORAD spokeswoman Major Holly Apostoliuk termed the escort a "precaution" but did not confirm the bomb threat report. "In this case only as a precaution did we intercept and escort the aircraft until it landed safely." The investigation was turned over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. RCMP released a statement later Saturday saying there was nothing unusual on the aircraft.

Haiti Relief Plane Hits House

All three people aboard a Mexican-registered Piper PA-46 Mirage loaded with relief supplies for Haiti survived when the aircraft clipped a house in Clearwater, Fla., broke into two pieces and caught fire Sunday morning. Six people in the house weren't hurt. Police say pilot Ernesto Gonzales, 48, and passengers Charles Uslander, 54, and Daisy Schneider, 16, were taken to hospital but their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. The accident occurred about 10:15 a.m. just after the aircraft took off from Clearwater Air Park.

Dennis Roper, the chairman of the air park's advisory board, told the St. Petersburg Times the plane arrived from Mexico on Friday and took on 96 gallons of fuel plus the relief supplies before taking off Sunday. It failed to gain altitude on takeoff and hit trees and a power pole before bouncing off the roof of the house and breaking into two pieces in the backyard.

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News Briefs back to top 

Charges Dropped Against NAFI Executive Director

The lawyer acting for National Association of Flight Instructors Executive Director Jason Blair says all criminal charges have been dropped against his client. As AVweb reported, Blair was arrested April 2 on embezzlement charges relating to his time as manager of Harris City/Barry County Airport in Michigan. Blair declined comment on the charges at the time and EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said his understanding was that it resulted from a contractual dispute between Blair's company and the county. NAFI is affiliated with EAA but has its own board of directors. In a statement released Thursday, Blair's lawyer James Mikel McEwen said the matter has been resolved.

"All criminal charges brought against Jason Blair have been dismissed," McEwen said. "The charges which were brought against Mr. Blair, and ultimately dismissed, involved a corporation in which Mr. Blair has an ownership interest. In the past, this corporation was contracted to provide management services at an airport in Southwest Michigan and a question, which has been resolved, arose over a fuel account. The above-described charges, in no way, had any relationship to Mr. Blair's duties or position with the National Association of Flight Instructors." Blair continued his role at NAFI through the legal process.

Dornier Picks Site For SeaStar

The Globe And Mail published Friday that Dornier will on Monday announce that its 10-seat twin-inline-turboprop SeaStar will be built in Quebec. Dornier's official announcement is not expected until 1:00 p.m. Monday at the company's new factory in Saint Jean sur Richilieu, about 20 miles south of Montreal. The company has reportedly been considering either Quebec or North Bay, Ont. The $6 million amphibious aircraft has already earned 25 orders and building it is expected to create about 175 jobs for Dornier, plus 70 more at Pratt & Whitney Canada (which produces the aircraft's powerplants). The SeaStar was FAA certified in the early 1990s but shelved due to financial trouble. Thanks to a $150 million investment from the Dornier family, the SeaStar program has been relaunched.

North Bay was considered a strong competitor because it is home to Canadore College's aviation school, which theoretically could serve as a source of employees. Montreal has a strong aerospace sector, including Pratt & Whitney Canada and Bombardier Aerospace, which are among the 10 biggest research and design investors in Canada, according to Aeromontreal.ca.

Related Content:
SeaStar Video (NBAA, 2008)

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We Could Describe It — But You'll
Probably Want to See for Yourself
back to top 

Woopy-Fly Inflatable Wing Aircraft

The Woopy-Fly, a sort of paraglider/trike/ultralight hybrid shown on the world stage at Aero Friedrichshafen this April, 2010, in Germany, has a wing that folds for storage like a paraglider -- because it's inflatable. An evolution of the Woopy Jump, an inflatable wing used by Woopy enthusiasts to give them a more convenient hang gliding-type experience while skiing, the Woopy-Fly adds a weight shift trike with motor to the modest wing structure. The wing, while inflatable, does have a single aluminum and carbon fiber spar that helps provide structure, but the wing itself achieves most of its structure through inflation. Initially pumped (over the course of about 12 minutes) to semi-rigidity by a battery-powered fan, two small rigid air scoops on the wing's higher-pressure underside maintain the wing's shape in flight. According to enthusiasts, those scoops provide enough pressure to maintain the wing's structure even if the material suffers a small puncture. Fully inflated, the wing spans 31 feet and weighs 35 pounds. The manufacturers, which go by the same name -- Woopy-Fly -- claim that when broken down, the vehicle is transportable in a normal automobile and launchable from your local cow pasture.

Currently, it appears the wing itself is only available from distributors in Switzerland, Russia, and Japan. Those wishing to buy the trike plus wing can expect a complete kit cost to run about 13,780 Swiss Francs, which currently is about $12,400, plus the legal disclaimer that releases the manufacturer of liability. However, the company does say the vehicle is capable of being adapted to different motors dependent on the operator's intent. It is easily prepared for flight by one person in less than 15 minutes. The wing itself seems to trace its marketing origins to Swiss inventor Larent de Kalbermatten, who began experimenting with the designs back in 1995.

Related Content:
Woopy-Fly Video

Woopy-Fly Inflatable Wing Ultralight Aircraft

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

The Woopy-Fly, a sort of paraglider/trike/ultralight hybrid shown on the world stage at AERO Friedrichshafen this April 2010 in Germany, has a wing that folds for storage like a paraglider — because it's inflatable. Currently, it appears the wing itself is only available from distributors in Switzerland, Russia, and Japan. Those wishing to buy the trike (plus wing) can expect a complete kit cost to run about 13,780 Swiss Francs, which currently is about US$12,400 — plus the legal disclaimer that releases the manufacturer of liability.

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Meanwhile, Over North America back to top 

406 ELTs To Be Required To Fly In Canada

After a brief reprieve, Canada's Transport Minister, John Baird, is reportedly ready to sign a regulation that will require most aircraft operating in Canadian airspace to have 406 MHz ELTs. The rule will apply to foreign-registered aircraft, and those not equipped will not be allowed to enter Canadian airspace. Canadian Owners and Pilots Association President Kevin Psutka said in a Web posting that although the rule hasn't been publicly released, it is understood to be substantially the same as a draft that was rejected by Baird last year because it didn't have any viable alternative methods of compliance. "The exact wording for the alternate means is not known at this time but we do know that the wording will not change significantly from a previous draft of the regulation; wording that excludes all affordable alternatives for our sector of aviation," Psutka said. There will likely be a three-year grace period before Canadian private aircraft have to be in compliance, but it's not clear when the regulation will be applied to aircraft flying into Canada from other countries. COPA has opposed the 406 MHz mandate because it believes there are technologically superior systems available that are more accurate and reliable than 406 ELTs, which it says are subject to the same issues as 121.5 ELTs in that they often fail to activate in real accidents and go off accidentally too often, triggering costly searches. Psutka said it was pressure from the Canadian Forces, which oversees search and rescue, that convinced the minister to backtrack.

The military brass insisted on automatic signaling as a bottom-line requirement, even though the line-of-sight signal from ELTs can be obscured by terrain (or even the aircraft itself), antennae break or the signal is lost from submerged aircraft. COPA argued that so-called bread crumb tracking devices that send regular position updates via satellite make more sense but most don't have the crash-triggered signaling ability. Psutka also said the military's influence on the equipage of civilian aircraft is a bad omen. "In many countries where the military controls/influences civil aviation, general aviation is either severely curtailed or non-existent," he said. "Perhaps the unwillingness of our Transport Minister to listen to reason and stand up against the military is a sign of things to come."

LSA Circumnavigation Hits U.S.

Two Swiss pilots landed in Gulfport, Miss., Saturday to wait out weather as they continue their westward circumnavigation in LSAs. There were no updates on their progress Sunday. Yannick Bovier and Francisco Agullo left Switzerland April 30 to show the capabilities of light sport aircraft and promote "ecological and economical general aviation." They landed their Flight Design CTLS aircraft in North America at Miami on Thursday and were treated to a welcome reception (click here for photo gallery) at Premier 1 Aviation. After a day's rest they intended to head to Austin Saturday but Mother Nature had other plans.

The duo ran into a line of storms and headed for Gulfport. "Comfortably seated at the FBO of Gulfport airport in Mississippi, we observe pouring rain falling on our parked and secured aircraft," Bovier wrote in the online log of the adventure. "Wise decision not to insist today." The pilots are now headed for El Paso on their way to Las Vegas and Monterey, the launch point for their next long water leg. They crossed the South Atlantic from Dakar to Recife, Brazil on May 5, covering about 1,700 nm in 15 hours and 30 minutes.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: AAL2 Emergency — An Overreaction?

That's what controller Jason Wilson says in a guest blog on the AVweb Insider. But whether it was or wasn't, the two useful takeaways for all of us are to be better prepared by listening to the ATIS and to be unmistakably assertive sooner rather than later.

Click here to read Jason's comments and chime in with your own thoughts.

AVweb Insider Blog: TCM Buys a Diesel — Does This Make Sense?

So TCM has bought into the diesel game by purchasing the intellectual rights to the SMA design. Can this possibly be made to work? Paul Bertorelli isn't 100% convinced, but in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog — submitted while Paul is on his way home from kicking tires at TCM's Mobile, Alabama press summit — he admits that TCM makes a good business case for it.

Click here to read the blog and join the conversation.

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

Aviation Consumer: Tell Us About Your Opinions on Diesel Engines and Alternate Fuels

Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is conducting research on attitudes toward replacement strategies for 100LL.

To take the survey, click this link and let us know what you think.

(The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.)

Aviation Consumer's LSA Durability Survey

p>Do you have an LSA at a flight school? Do you rent one? Aviation Consumer needs to hear from you.

Aviation Consumer is looking at the long-term durability of these aircraft when subjected to the rigors of flight training, as well as their cost and ease of repair. Whether you run a flight school with LSAs, own an LSA that you lease back, or just rent them for your flight training, you voice matters.

Click here to participate in our quick LSA durability survey.

(The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.)

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 200,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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

Jeff Wise, Author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger

File Size 12.7 MB / Running Time 13:54

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Science writer Jeff Wise, who is also a private pilot, discovered his own fear response when an assignment required him to bungee-jump off a cliff. He then wrote a book that explores the inner workings of our brains under stress, using many examples of aviators coping with extreme situations. He found that by understanding our own subconscious mechanisms, we can identify strategies to cope with and overcome fear. AVweb's Mary Grady interviewed Wise by phone at his home in New York City.

Click here to listen. (12.7 MB, 13:54)

TCM's New Diesel Project

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

TCM said more than a year ago that it wanted to get an aerodiesel into its product line, and now it has one. The company bought diesel technology already developed from a European source and is forging ahead with its own program.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: JA Air Center (KARR, Aurora, Illinois)

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

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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to our old friends at JA Air Center at Aurora Municipal Airport (KARR) in Aurora, Illinois.

Recently, AVweb reader Mike Hayles visited JA's Aurora, Illinois location (Aurora Municipal Airport, KARR) and was impressed with the top-notch service:

I have based my survey aircraft at JA Air Center for the last week. Every day the service has been prompt, efficient, and cheerful — and the very competitve fuel prices take it to the top of my list of favorite FBOs.

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!

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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 King Schools Get-It-All Training Kit

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win a Get-It-All Training Kit from King Schools 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 May 21, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to David Schieman of Lawrenceville, Georgia, who won Scheyden Dual RX frames and a Scheyden flight gear package in our last drawing! (click here to get your own from Scheyden)

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

Coming out of Page Field in Ft. Myers, Florida:

Cessna 123:
"Cessna 123. Five north to land."

"Cessna 123, you might be five north of somewhere, but it's not five north of here. Suggest you are five South. Enter a right base for Runway 5."

Cessna 123:
"Roger. A right base should get me to the runway."

Stu Baxter
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.