AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 25b

June 24, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Updates on the FCC's 121.5 ELT Ban back to top 

FCC Proposes Ban On 121.5 ELTs (Updated)

The Federal Communications Commission took the general aviation world by surprise when it said in a recent report it will prohibit the sale or use of 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters and require the use of 406 MHz units, a rule that could take effect as soon as August. Most of the 220,000 or so GA aircraft in the U.S. still use the 121.5 ELTs, which are allowed by the FAA. The FCC rule doesn't take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register, and AOPA says they hope to work things out with the FCC before that publication takes place. Nonetheless, AOPA's Rob Hackman said, "At this time, we caution anyone against purchasing a new ELT until this issue is resolved. There's a lot of misunderstanding at this time as to the status of this rule." On Wednesday, the Aircraft Electronics Association said the FCC has clarified that the rule is targeting legacy TSO C91a ELTs, which operate primarily on 121.5 MHz, not the general use of frequency 121.5 MHz as the rule implies. "Current TSO C126 ELTs are not affected by this ruling," the AEA said. The FAA also appeared to be surprised by the FCC rulemaking.' We are discussing this with FCC. We have stated that their order is inconsistent with the FAA's rule," FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette told AVweb.

FCC spokesman Matt Nodine told AVweb on Wednesday he doesn't have a date for the rule's publication, but when asked if the agency would be open to further discussion on the matter of ELTs, he said "We've already been open to discussion." A notice about the proposed changes was posted on the FCC Web site and disseminated as an NPRM, and public comment was invited, he said. The rule changes have been in the works for several years. "We've gone through multiple [comment] cycles already," Nodine said. The 121.5 ELTs are no longer monitored by satellite, but the frequency is watched by other aircraft, air traffic control, and the military. The FCC notice says, "Were we to permit continued marketing and use of 121.5 MHz ELTs ... it would engender the risk that aircraft owners and operators would mistakenly rely on those ELTs for the relay of distress alerts." However, the notice specifically exempts the Brietling Emergency Watch, which broadcasts its signal on 121.5. Upgrading to the 406 ELTs comes at a cost, and many pilots believe there is not a great increase in safety. AOPA and EAA both have expressed opposition to the rule change and said they are working to prevent it from taking effect.

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Where to Go and How to Get There back to top 

New Owners Attempt CLEAR Redemption

In 2009, CLEAR, a service that once allowed members fast access through security checkpoints at certain airports, closed without notice (but with its clients' payments); now, new owners are mounting a comeback. The company once provided security screening that expedited transit for its roughly 200,000 patrons by providing them with special kiosks at about 20 major U.S. airports. Those patrons had paid up to $199 per year and more than $500 for three-year memberships. The money and services were lost when the company folded, and questions were raised about the personal security information CLEAR had gathered from its members. The new management says it "will honor prior management's obligation" and reinstate customers' remaining membership terms.

With CLEAR, members used kiosks that matched retinal-scan and fingerprint-identification technology with personal security information. Patrons avoided the shoeless shuffle and long lines associated with traditional security screening. The new owners are offering that service again and promise a "transparent" ownership style.

AirVenture 2010 Promises Rare Warbirds, New Technology

EAA AirVenture 2010 is just over a month away, so if you're going, now is a good time to be making plans, especially since early-bird discounts on advance tickets expire June 30. This year's big event has plenty of new features, a salute to veterans with lots of rare warbirds, plus of course the usual huge lineup of flight demos, airshow performers, forums, workshops, aviation films, and just about any kind of aviation-related event you can think of. Space is limited for the electric aircraft symposium on Friday, featuring aircraft designers Burt Rutan, Randall Fishman, John Monnett and more, so if you want to be there, register online now. The Goodyear Blimp will make another visit to the site, and a night airshow will light up the sky on Friday night, followed by mass balloon launches on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

KidVenture provides special activities all week long, so kids can try their hand at flying radio-controlled aircraft, take a flight lesson in simulator, practice building wooden wing ribs, and lots more. On Teachers Day, Monday July 26, educators get a free pass to the show and a full roster of education programming, plus continuing-education credits. Space is limited, so sign up now, at the Build A Plane website. And if you're flying in to Oshkosh or a nearby airport, be sure to study the current Notam first and know the procedures. The AirVenture website also provides lots of detailed travel information about where to stay, a "survival guide," suggestions for driving in, and even a ride-share board.

EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski talked with AVweb's Mary Grady this week about the upcoming show; click here for all the inside scoop. And of course the AVweb crew will be onsite at Oshkosh all week long, bringing you daily reports, videos and podcasts.

FAA Grants Extra Weight To Terrafugia

Terrafugia Inc. has been granted an exemption from the FAA (PDF) that allows the company a maximum takeoff weight of 1,430 pounds for its Transition roadable aircraft, 110 pounds above the usual limit for LSAs. The extra weight will make it easier for the designers to comply with federal motor vehicle safety standards, which require additional components such as airbags, brakes, crumple zones and mirrors. Similar weight allowances have been made for amphibious LSA models. In a statement granting the exemption, the FAA said "the safety of roadable aircraft is better served by allowing for the weight increase for safety features required for use while driving on the road." The company says it has made progress with its production prototype design and will show a computer rendering of the vehicle at a press conference July 26, opening day at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. "People will be very pleasantly surprised with the amount of progress ... what I feel will be a technological tour de force," said CEO Carl Dietrich.

The company had petitioned the FAA to allow a maximum takeoff weight of 1,474 pounds, but the FAA chose to stick with precedent. Statements supporting the exemption were filed with the FAA by EAA, AOPA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association and others. Besides enhancing safety, Dietrich said, the change will allow his team more leeway in choosing components, keeping the price down and perhaps adding payload. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Dietrich at Sun 'n Fun about the program's progress; click here to listen.

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Aviation Safety Reports back to top 

Pilots Sought For Survey On Icing

If you're a professional pilot, the folks at Decision Research are hoping you'll take a few minutes to complete their online survey, and help NASA and the FAA to produce better training products about aircraft icing. Those agencies want to create new courses tailored to the needs of pilots who fly Part 135 and Part 91 corporate and fractional operations in piston twin, turboprop, and business jet aircraft. Your participation will help the team to determine what should be in those training modules. The survey is fairly extensive and some of the answers will require some thought. Robert Mauro, the senior research scientist for the project, told AVweb the survey should take about 20 minutes and it's completely anonymous.

At the end of the questions, you'll be invited to type in your e-mail address, which will enter you into a drawing to win one of several Apple iPads that will be given away to those who participate, as a thank-you for the time invested. You can also choose not to enter the drawing. Either way, Mauro said, "your responses will not be associated with you in any way. No one will be able to connect your answers with you." The FAA plans to reinvigorate pilot education efforts regarding icing, starting with the corporate fixed-wing segment but eventually branching out to cover all segments of the pilot population, Mauro said.

Click here to take the survey.
Click here for a look at some of NASA's icing courses that are already online.

Crew Error Suspected In Air India Crash

The flight crew of an Air India 737 that crashed in southern India last month, killing 158 people, failed to abort a sub-standard approach and then reacted with confusion and hesitation after they touched down and tried to take off again, according to a report in Monday's Wall Street Journal. The airplane ran off the end of the runway, plummeted down a cliff, broke apart and caught fire. Eight people survived. Safety experts from the U.S. and elsewhere have been critical of India's pilot training and operating standards for years, the Journal says. Airlines and regulators are now facing widespread criticism and have indicated that changes are forthcoming soon. An official report on the accident is due next week.

Bill Voss, CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, told the Journal the dramatic growth of aviation in India has created an influx of pilots from various countries, resulting in challenges in communication among crews due to language and cultural differences. The captain of the accident airplane was a British citizen and the first officer was an Indian national.

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Eye on the FAA back to top 

Report: NextGen "May Not Deliver"

The FAA is falling short in developing the NextGen airspace system, according to a report (PDF) released last week by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General. Unless the FAA can do a better job of maximizing resources and controlling costs, "NextGen may not deliver the expected long-term benefits and ultimately puts billions of taxpayer dollars at risk," the report says. "FAA has not yet acquired the necessary skill sets and expertise to successfully implement NextGen." The report made five recommendations to the FAA, including a suggestion to set realistic benchmarks for training air traffic controllers and pilots in the use of new avionics and procedures. The FAA proposed appropriate action plans for addressing the recommendations, the report said.

The report says a number of critical actions are still needed for successful implementation. Most important, the FAA needs to set realistic expectations and firm requirements for what can be achieved in the midterm and realistically assess the risks. Also, the FAA is missing opportunities to leverage the research and development work of partner agencies that could significantly enhance NextGen development and reduce costs. For example, the FAA has yet to inventory the Department of Defense's vast research base for NextGen or fully leverage ongoing work for an accurate satellite-based precision landing system and net centric operations, the report found.

FAA Approves Predator For Border Patrol

The FAA Wednesday approved use of an unmanned Predator B aircraft out of Corpus Christi to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico along the 1,200 miles between El Paso and Brownsville, Texas. Flights could begin as early as Sept. 1. The flights add to Texas' aerial drone coverage approved in May that began June 1, over the West Texas and New Mexico border, and to those previously approved for the Arizona-Mexico border. The Predator B UAV has a 20-hour endurance and can provide real-time feeds from sensors, radars and cameras. A May 2008 congressional report noted that UAVs "suffer accident rates up to hundreds of times higher than manned aircraft," but U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sees value in their role. Napolitano doesn't feel the aircraft are useful everywhere, but that they "are part of the right mix of infrastructure, manpower, and technology that can improve border security." Even so, the latest approval did involve political wrangling that may have delayed an appointment at the FAA.

Predators have been flying in Arizona since 2006 and one has crashed there due to pilot error. The move is supported by Texas lawmakers hoping to suppress illegal entry into their state. Republican Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison had sent letters to both Napolitano and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt in support of the drone program. And Cornyn had blocked a Senate confirmation vote on Michael Huerta, who would serve as deputy administrator under Babbitt at the FAA. Wednesday Cornyn issued a statement of his support for Huerta, after the Predator gained approval for U.S. Customs use in his home state of Texas.

EAA AirVenture || July 26 - August 1, 2010 || Click to Purchase Tickets Online
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh —
Savings Extended to June 30!

July 26 - August 1 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
A year not to miss! "Salute to Veterans" week-long celebration — a gathering of warbirds and modern-day military aircraft like no other, with forums, presentations, and daily air shows. Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the DC-3/C-47 and the B-17. Monday concert by Chicago. Buy your tickets online before June 30 and save time and money!

Click here to purchase tickets online.
What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Bonus Depreciation Extension Introduced

A bipartisan bill to extend bonus depreciation on aircraft purchases has been introduced in the Senate and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association is rooting for its passage. The bill was introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Chuck Grassley. Bonus depreciation allows aircraft buyers to depreciate their purchase 50 percent in the first year instead of spreading the depreciation over five years. It was introduced in 2008 as part of the stimulus package and extended through 2009. "Bonus depreciation is a powerful incentive to purchase a GA aircraft and is proven to increase sales during difficult economic conditions," said GAMA CEO Pete Bunce. "It is the one tax provision we have asked Congress to pass to help offset the decline in sales due to the recession and bring back lost jobs."

GAMA says the impact of bonus depreciation is significant and one manufacturer calculated that it was a factor in 55 percent of its sales. This isn't a tax cut, however. The accelerated depreciation means write-offs in subsequent years will be less so the long-term impact on government finances is negligible.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

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

Question of the Week: Upgrading to 406 MHz — Are You?

If the FCC's plans are implemented, you'll need a 406 MHz ELT sooner rather than later to meet their regulations. Are you rushing out to buy one?

Will you try to meet the FCC deadline for 406 MHz ELT equipage?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

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

What's On Your Mind?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

NOTE: 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.)

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Cirrus Has a New Turbo SR22! That's Good, Right?

IFR's Jeff Van West watched the unveiling of Cirrus Aircraft's new turbo model at the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association annual migration last week and was left wondering: Why? This new model leaves some important questions unanswered, especially for buyers thinking they're buying something they might not actually be getting.

Click here to look back over the history of the turbo Cirrus with Jeff and share your opinions in the comment thread.

AVweb Insider Blog: FCC's ELT Rule a Bad Joke?

The FCC says it will outlaw 121.5 ELTs by August. The news reminds AVweb editor-in-chief Russ Niles of the April Fool's edition we used to publish every year — except this is no joke. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Russ wonders how they're going to pull this off.

Click here to read more and share your thoughts.

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

Cirrus SR22T Flight Demo

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

Cirrus is out with a new version of the SR22, the SR22T, with a TSIO-550-K groundboosted turbo system. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took a demo flight in the new airplane with Cirrus's Matt Bergwall.

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.

Supersonic Flight & Transonic Phenomena

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

Sound travels at about 760 miles per hour, or 340 meters per second and about 661 knots on an average day at sea level. And sometimes, you can almost see it. Going close to that speed through air can cause some unusual visual effects. This compiled footage includes F-14s, standard and Blue Angels F-18s, plus the SR-71 and an Atlas Rocket launch. AVweb contacted sources at NASA to research the phenomena.

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.

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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 Zaon PCAS XRX

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Win a Zaon PCAS XRX 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 Friday, July 16, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to Richard Kemp of Canton, Georgia, who won an AV8OR handheld GPS in our last drawing! (click here to get your own from Bendix/King by Honeywell)

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Redtail Aviation (Canyonlands Field Airport, KCNY, Moab, UT)

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

Conoco-Phillips WingPoints || Under Our Wings, Land the Big One || Click to Get Your 

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" award goes to Redtail Aviation at Canyonlands Field Airport (KCNY) in Moab, Utah.

AVweb reader Joseph Barber discovered the FBO "near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks" and found the service outstanding. "We had a mechanical while spending the week hiking and were pleasantly surprised to find their mechanics quick and able," writes Joseph — adding that the rates were pretty reasonable, to boot!

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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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.


medium | large

Used with permission of Isaac Adler

Otsego Splash-In Sunrise

Isaac Adler of Kalamazoo, Michigan kicks off this week's assortment of reader-submitted photos with a glorious sunrise he snapped at the 29th Annual Midwest Seaplane Pilots Association Fly-In. "Early Friday morning, I woke up because my tent was glowing red," writes Isaac. "When I walked outside, I knew I had to take a picture."

medium | large

Used with permission of George Mock

Knife Edge

Nope, it's not the Red Bull World Series in New York — it's the Races' previous stop in Windsor, Ontario, where the always-amazing George Mock snapped this shot of Mike Goulian navigating the pylons.

(Be nice, and we'll slip another of George's Windsor race pics into the slideshow on AVweb's home page this week, 'K.?)

medium | large

copyright © Sean Cannon
Used with permission

Helio on Spokane River

Shhh — I think he can see us. Sean Cannon of Monte Vista, Colorado snuck up on this visitor "on the banks of the Spokane River [in Washington], near Felts Field."

medium | large

copyright © Elliot Block
Used with permission

"WASP" Stands by Her P-51D (Paul Allen's Heritage Collection)

One of the nice things about working at AVweb is this: When there's a fun event none of us can get to — like, say, the Museum of Flight's 75th Anniversary — we can count on someone out there to send us a few pictures.

That's how we scored this dandy little gem from Elliot Block of Vista, California.

medium | large

copyright © Brian Emch
Used with permission

Blackbird Moonset

Speaking of Californians you can count on for a good photo, here's Lancaster's Brian Emch to wrap things up for this week. And what a shot to do it with — Blackbird Air Park in Palmdale, California after dusk.

Do you enjoy AVweb's "Picture of the Week"? We sure do! And it's only possible because readers like the ones you see represented here — readers just like you — take the time to submit photos. So how about it? Dig up a couple of those air show photos and show us some love, will ya?

And we mentioned the home page slideshow earlier, but some of you may not know that we use it to showcase some of the dozens of photo submissions we receive each week that don't make it into the "Final Five" you see here. If you you enjoy "POTW" but don't make it a point to check out the slideshow at some point during the week — you should! (And this week we're giving a special shout-out to David Bier and his son Dan, who's featured in his first warbird ride over there. Go. Check it out.)

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 

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.