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|AVflash! Don't Panic Everything's Under
AND MARTHA KING HELD AT POLICE GUNPOINT (REALLY)
most prominent husband and wife team is calling on government agencies
to keep their databases up to date and warning pilots and aircraft
owners they could be next to be surrounded by heavily armed police,
handcuffed and detained because of a bit of miscommunication. John and
Martha King say there's a lesson to be learned after they spent about 30
scary minutes in the custody of Santa Barbara, Calif., police at the
Santa Barbara Airport Saturday. Authorities thought their leased Cessna
172 was a Cessna 150 that had been stolen eight years previously in
Texas. The 172, which is owned by Cessna Aircraft, was assigned the
N-number of the stolen 150 in 2009, years after the FAA had cancelled
that registration on the 150. Apparently no one told the El
Paso Intelligence Center, an arm of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and
other government departments that keeps tabs on, among other things,
flights of stolen aircraft. When the Kings filed IFR for their flight
from San Diego to meet friends in Santa Barbara, the local police were
alerted to intercept the aircraft when it landed. As Martha King told us in the accompanying
podcast, what followed was, in her opinion, unnecessarily dangerous
and uncomfortable. More...
INVESTIGATES ALARMING CABIN MESSAGE
British Airways is
investigating how an automated message came to be played on Aug. 24 over
the intercom of an otherwise healthy in-flight 747, telling all 275
passengers the jet was going to ditch. The message, delivered by what a British tabloid called a "calm female voice," said
(according to multiple other sources), "This is an emergency. We may
shortly need to make an emergency landing on water." The aircraft was
out of Heathrow for Hong Kong and over the North Sea at the time. As
passengers began to absorb and perhaps imaginatively elaborate on the
message, cabin crew "immediately made an announcement," and advised
passengers that the warning "was played in error" and "the flight would
continue as normal," according to British Airways. A BA spokesman told
Bloomberg News the message can be activated in a number of ways -- none
of which are accessible to pilots in the cockpit. More...
DRONE BUSTS WASHINGTON AIRSPACE
The Navy says it's working on
a software glitch that resulted in a helicopter drone flying
autonomously toward Washington, D.C., last week. The Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV is no toy helicopter. It
grosses out at 3,150 pounds and is nearly 24 feet from nose-mounted
multi-sensing eye to tail rotor. On Aug. 2, while undergoing testing at
NAS Patuxent River, the remote control pilot lost the data link with the
UAV. "When they lose contact with the Fire Scout, there's a program
that's supposed to have it immediately return to the airfield to land
safely," Cmdr Danny Hernandez told The New York Times. "That did not happen as
planned." This time, the automation failed and the UAV headed for
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REJECTS MORE FLIGHT SCHOOL FEES
Arizona education officials
have decided against following California in imposing potentially
onerous financial and regulatory requirements on Part 61 flight schools.
The Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education unanimously
rejected a proposal to consider Part 61 flight schools as "vocational"
programs. Doing so would have made the generally smaller and less
federally regulated schools subject to financial performance regulations
and annual fees aimed at least partly at ensuring students would be
protected if the school suddenly ceased operations. Aviation groups and
flight instructor organizations spoke against the Arizona proposal at a
meeting in Phoenix last week, saying the new rules might force otherwise
upstanding and successful flight schools out of business. However, a
group that loosely represents students who have collectively lost tens
of millions of dollars to corrupt or incompetent flight schools has a
different take on the Arizona decision. More...
Mexicana, Mexico's largest airline, stopped
flying at noon on Saturday, telling passengers still holding tickets it
was sorry for the inconvenience. The airline entered bankruptcy
protection earlier and was trying to reorganize when parent company
Grupo Mexicana pulled the pin, citing, among other things, the inability
to reach deals with unionized employees. "Financial deterioration and
lack of agreements forced Grupo Mexicana to stop flying," the company
said in a statement. The collapse also shut down the company's budget
spinoffs Click and Link, even though both were reportedly making money.
Those who've paid for flights can apply for refunds and efforts are
being made to help out at least some passengers who had already flown
one or more legs of their trip. Meanwhile, Mexicana's chief competitor
Aeromexico is offering discounted fares to those holding Mexicana
Having most recently set its sights on late
this year, Boeing is blaming Rolls-Royce for the latest in a series of
delays that now has the company estimating first delivery of its 787
Dreamliner sometime in the first part of next year. Boeing says it needs
Rolls-Royce's Trent 1000 engines, an engine option for the 787, for the
final phase of flight testing this fall. Rolls-Royce says it can not
support that schedule but is working with Boeing to expedite delivery of
the engines. A 787 engine being tested at a Rolls-Royce facility in
early August suffered an uncontained failure that significantly damaged
both the engine and its casing. Boeing and Rolls-Royce previously said
that failure would not impact the airliner's delivery schedule. With the
most recent delay, the Dreamliner may now run at least three years
behind schedule, and that passes significant costs to Boeing. The
company's first customer appears to be understanding of the latest delay
even as already completed "production" 787s sit engine-less near
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WARNING AREA MIDAIR (FOLLOW-UP)
The Coast Guard, Navy and
Marines have published reports on an October midair that took the lives
of all involved -- seven Coast Guard members and two Marines flying in a
Military Warning Area, at night, off Southern California. The crash
involved a Coast Guard C-130 and Marine Cobra AH-1. The C-130 was flying
search and rescue; the helicopter was flying a practice mission in
formation with three others. The Coast Guard says its C-130 crew had
been in contact with Navy controllers (who were monitoring the Warning
Area) for more than two and one-half hours prior to the midair and may
have expected the controller to provide separation. The Marine pilots
were flying without an active anti-collision light, or transponder,
which gave the C-130's crew "little opportunity" to see and avoid the
helicopter, according to the Coast Guard. While the Marines' report was
not made public, Tuesday, the Coast Guard and Navy offerings differed
slightly in their presentation of contributing factors.
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CALLS FOR MORE STUDY ON LEADED AVGAS
The Avgas Coalition,
which is made up of aviation industry groups and petroleum industry
organizations, has told EPA more study is needed to determine whether
leaded aviation fuel actually poses a risk great enough to warrant an
"endangerment finding." Such a finding would be the first step in
banning lead from avgas. AOPA and the coalition both responded to EPA's
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and AOPA said in a statement it
doesn't think there's enough evidence for the EPA to issue the
endangerment finding. "The coalition comments highlight the need for
sound data and a better understanding of the issue before we can develop
an effective, scientifically sound roadmap that puts air safety first
and foremost while attempting to address real environmental concerns,"
said AOPA President Craig Fuller. The fundamental issue is whether
emissions from piston aircraft exceed the National Ambient Air Quality
Standard for lead. At the same time, however, AOPA's statement seems to
accept as inevitable that leaded aviation fuel will go away. "The
coalition will continue to work closely with the EPA and FAA to develop
a plan to transition to an unleaded fuel that addresses safety, economic
and environmental concerns," the statement said. EPA didn't need that
kind of long and complicated process to decide on how to deal with
another source of environmental lead, however. More...
ON THE SLOW RECOVERY AND 100LL
In raw figures, Cirrus had a
better first quarter this year than last, but while "the trajectory of
the business is terrific at the bottom line," Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters
told TheStreet.com, "the revenue line stinks" and fuel
adversity may be coming. Cirrus' first quarter was up 36 percent over
the same period last year, and total billings were up 22 percent. But
Wouters is only expecting to hold par with last year's volume and
revenue, while leveraging a $55 million improvement at the bottom line
through cost-cutting. "Even in my five-year projection, I don't see the
business returning to the level that it was in 2007." For Wouters, the
concern isn't in the quantity of aircraft delivered, it's about
delivering at a level that "is sustainable and at good solid gross
margins." That, he says, means continuing work to lower labor and
material costs to increase margins. It also means planning ahead when it
comes to 100LL. More...
AIRPORT FEARS LOSS OF NONETHANOL FUEL
Central Maine Airport
operator Kristina Wallace told The Morning Sentinel her phone is "ringing off the
hook" with calls from pilots who've learned that 87-Octane fuel is about
to vanish from the airport. Federal regulations and tax incentives,
along with the actions of fuel refiners and distributors in the region,
mean that the only 87-Octane fuel provided to the airport will soon come
pre-packed with 10-percent ethanol. The airport's fuel distributor says
it will run out of ethanol-free fuel in less than two months. Any pilots
who've been using it will have to move to the more expensive 100LL,
whether the leaded fuel is good for their wallets (or engines) or not.
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HANDCUFFS AND JOHN AND MARTHA KING
Think it can't happen to
you? John and Martha King (of King Schools) beg to differ. Aviation's
best-known couple were the subject of a bizarre case of mistaken
identity on Aug. 28 that resulted in them having guns drawn on them,
being handcuffed and held for about 30 minutes. As always, there are
lessons to be learned from Martha King as she goes through the
bizarre event at the Santa Barbara Airport in this unedited and, at 15
minutes, longer-than-usual AVweb podcast.
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BALLOONIST JONATHAN TRAPPE
Jonathan Trappe is a sort of super-hero to some
children and a crazy man to some adults. We found him inspirational.
Trappe is licensed to fly beneath a group of homemade helium-filled
balloons. That means his aircraft is one of the most structurally
redundant vehicles in the sky. But it's also challenging to fly. Trappe
controls his direction by varying his altitude. He can drop water
ballast or stab balloons with a knife to alter his buoyancy as he flies.
Wind direction can vary with altitude, and Trappe uses that to his
advantage, adjusting his present reality to the forecast conditions. To
stay visible to controllers and aircraft, Trappe carries a radio and
transponder, making him visible on radar. For visual avoidance, Trappe
relies mainly on the 50-foot brightly colored canopy of balloons above
his head. At night, he uses lights. More...
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OF THE WEEK: MONTGOMERY AVIATION (INDIANAPOLIS EXECUTIVE AIRPORT, KTYQ,
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Montgomery
Aviation at Indianapolis Executive Airport (KTYQ) in Zionsville,
AVweb reader Brian Johnson tells us
Montgomery is the cream of the crop in his region:
... [B]y far the best experience I have had
with an FBO in my 18 years of flying. They are very courteous, helpful
and responsive. I have been part of Eagle Flyers, their local flying
club, for the past two years, and it has been a wonderful experience.
Very well-maintained aircraft, reasonable prices, good availability and
excellent service this is the type of FBO that inspires current
and future general aviation pilots.
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in
the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here
next Monday! More...
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YEARS AND NOW 15 GRAND GIVEAWAYS ... WE'RE GIVING YOU ANOTHER CHANCE TO
WIN A BOSE AVIATION HEADSET X
Our 15th anniversary celebration continues,
with a second chance to win a Bose Aviation Headset X! All you have
to do is click here to enter your name and email 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
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.)
entries is 11:59pm Zulu time Friday, September 3, 2010.
Click here to read the contest rules and
Congratulations to Roger Newcomb of Austin,
TX, who won our last drawing, for a Spidertrack Aviator! (click here to get your own from
Heard on the air near KTRK (runways 19 and 28 in use
"Truckee Unicom, Twin Cessna XXX eight
miles southwest. Runway advisory,
"Winds are 190 at 20, gusting 30. All
runways are open."
Cessna (slightly clueless sound in
his voice) :
"Do you have a suggested
"Most aircraft are using 19, right
"Roger. 19, right traffic."
Eric Niedrauer More...
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.
AVwebFlash team is:
here to send a letter to the
editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not
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Comments or questions
about the news should be sent
Have a product or service to advertise
on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's
If you're having
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Navigate. Communicate. More...