AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 37a

September 13, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Investor Intrigue at Cirrus back to top 

Cirrus Courting Investors

Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters confirmed that a delegation of potential investors from China visited the company's Duluth facilities last week but he said it's not the first and probably won't be the last time the company has hosted foreign capitalists. "We have been very open that we are looking for capital," Wouters told AVweb. "We should expect more people to come here of different ethnicities." Wouters declined to say who the Chinese delegation represented but he also downplayed the significance of the visit, which occurred about two months after rumors swirled that the company was going to be sold to a Chinese company. "Everyone thinks the Chinese are going to buy everything," Wouters mused. He said there are many other countries with solid financials that are looking to buy their way into high-technology manufacturing and Cirrus is actively courting anyone who comes calling. He said South America, in particular Brazil and Chile, are especially promising prospects.

The slow economy has forced curtailments at Cirrus, whose major investor is a Bahrainian-backed venture capital company called Arcapita. Wouters has said Cirrus is holding its own in the tough economy but needs outside capital for development projects, including the SF50 jet. He said the continued interest in Cirrus by outside capitalists is good news. "All I'm trying to tell you is that this is a very good thing for jet position holders and Cirrus customers," Wouters said. He said there have been productive discussions with multiple interested parties but no deals are imminent. "We're not on the verge of something quick."

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Safety and (National) Security back to top 

Fallout From The Runaway DC UAV

When an unmanned Navy helicopter disregarded its directions and errantly flew toward the U.S. capital last month it may have validated the concerns of many pilots, but it immediately engaged military officials who had pressing decisions to make. The Aug. 2 incident put a runaway MQ-8B Fire Scout over populated areas near busy airspace. The head of the U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, was watching "very closely" as the aircraft "headed right for the heart of the national capital region." Commanders considered their options. "Do you let it run out of gas and hopefully crash in a farmer's field or do you actually take action to shoot it down?" Admiral Winnefeld told reporters. In the end, 20 minutes into the aircraft's wanderings and before scrambling F-16s, operators regained control of the helicopter. But the event, combined with regulatory issues that make spontaneous domestic drone deployment impossible, have military officials reluctantly looking backward for near-term solutions.

The military is seeking more flexibility that would allow them to put drones in the air faster, but Winnefeld said lighter, slower, low-flying piloted aircraft may still provide the best alternative. Such aircraft could be employed during sports events, political conventions or inaugural activities that are not best served by high-flying, high-speed F-16s. Winnefeld said he will consider that possibility and hopes to have answers within a year. The Admiral believes drones are "where the future is going." But for certain domestic missions, the military believes it needs what it doesn't demonstratively have -- the ability to quickly earn approval to launch drones that can be trusted not to wander off. "We can't move quickly enough for me to solve this problem," he said.

Rendition Suit Against Jeppesen "Reluctantly" Dismissed

A lawsuit brought by a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner and four others that sought to hold Jeppesen Dataplan Inc responsible for aiding the CIA in flying them to secret interrogation sites was dismissed Wednesday by an appeals court. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco "reluctantly concluded" in a 6-5 vote that the possibility of exposing national security issues during trial superseded the complainants right to have their day in court. Jeppesen was described in a 2007 report as the CIA's aviation services provider. The complainants claim they were taken from the U.S. to foreign locations where they were brutally interrogated. Two of the men are currently being held abroad. The other three have been released without charges. The new ruling overturns a 2009 decision that reinstated the suit after it had been dismissed by a district court judge in 2008. The ACLU, which represents the men, plans to take their appeal to the Supreme Court (though a Supreme Court ruling was referenced in the 9th Circuit's opinion).

The 9th Circuit Court's opinion states that it arrived at its conclusion bound by a 1953 Supreme Court ruling that that "even the most compelling necessity cannot overcome the claim of privilege if the court is ultimately satisfied that [state] secrets are at stake." The court stated that "After much deliberation, we reluctantly conclude this is such a case, and the plaintiffs' action must be dismissed." The men claim they were brutally interrogated after being abducted and flown by the CIA to foreign locations where they say they were tortured. The Bush administration, which held office at the time, has said "rendition" flights were conducted but only with the guarantee that prisoners would not be tortured. A spokesman for the Obama administration's Justice Department, Matthew Miller, said the department was "pleased" by the 9th Circuit Court's decision in this case.

Review the court's opinion by clicking here (PDF).

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The Probable Cause? back to top 

Pedal Jam May Have Caused Cruse Crash

A rudder pedal jam may have led to the fatal crash of former U.S. Aerobatics Champion Vicki Cruse during qualifying for the world championships in England last year. The British Air Accidents Investigations Branch says it also can't rule out pilot incapacitation as a contributing factor in the accident. The AAIB report (PDF) says Cruse added rudder pedal extensions to the Edge 540 she was borrowing for the competition. A post-crash examination revealed that the left extension could have ended up in a position that would have prevented the pilot from fully removing left rudder once it had been applied. A video of the accident indicates some degree of left rudder (pro-rotational) being applied after the aircraft failed to recover from a snap roll and continued rolling as it descended vertically from 2,300 feet to the ground. The AAIB also noted that Cruse's head was tilted to the left during the crash sequence, suggesting her "ability to recognize or respond to the situation had somehow become impaired" either because she was looking down at her left foot or she was unconscious.

The maneuver involved a vertical climb with a pushover at the top followed by the snap roll, and is not a high-G move. Much of the AAIB analysis focuses on the rudder pedal and the extensions, which Cruse also used on her own Edge 540. The investigators found that there were circumstances under which the rudder pedal could be jammed when the extensions were in place and that the pilot wouldn't be able to push hard enough to free it. The only way to remedy the situation would have been to adjust the extension's position on the pedal to free it up.

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Rest and Comfort — On an Airline? back to top 

FAA Proposes New Pilot Rest Rules

New rules (PDF) proposed by the FAA to manage pilot fatigue were announced Friday; they provide limits on duty time of any kind, provide 30 consecutive hours weekly of time off and attempt to guarantee at least eight hours sleep between shifts. The new requirements aim to create a single consistent rule that "would eliminate the current distinctions between domestic, flag and supplemental operations." That translates to domestic, international and charter operations and means a minimum rest period of nine hours off-duty measured from the time the pilot reaches suitable accommodation. "Unforeseen circumstances" may lower that to eight hours. The FAA says the new rules are based on scientific research that show factors other than sleep affect fatigue, including "time on task." While defining a single consistent rule for rest, the rules for duty time are more flexible.

The rules do provide different requirements based on time of day, jet lag and "the likelihood of being able to sleep under different circumstances." And, in specific circumstances, they eliminate existing limits on maximum flight time. The rules allow for up to 18 hours of flight duty time designated as "augmented" if conditions based on an aircraft's rest facility, a flight's start time and its crew size are met. The rules also eliminate a maximum flight time for certain augmented operations. Under the rules, pilots would have the right to decline a flight if they feel fatigued, without retaliation by management. The FAA's proposed rule sets limits on duty time of any kind for weekly and monthly periods and establishes a requirement for 30 consecutive hours each week that are free from duty. The changes from current Part 121 requirements have been inspired in part by the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in February 2009, near Buffalo, N.Y. The FAA is accepting comments on the rules for 60 days.

Giddy-Up For Lower Fares

click for larger image

If the various indignities of modern airline travel haven't been enough to push some disgruntled passengers toward private aviation, the SkyRider just might. Italian airliner seat manufacturer Aviointeriors will introduce a saddle-shaped design at next week's Aircraft Interiors Expo in Long Beach. It says can be installed in just 23 inches per seat. The base of the seat is, uh, form-fitting, with depressions for the legs that will naturally pitch them forward in what appears to be an attempt to minimize necessary leg room. The result is a half-standing/half-sitting posture, but designer Gaetano Perugini told USA Today it's not the standing room that some budget carriers have suggested. "Even though the (distance between seats) is extremely narrow, we are talking about seats, not about ... having passengers simply standing on the floor," he says. "You are sitting on a special seat, but it is a seat." Aviointeriors Director General Dominique Menoud said the seats will be as comfortable as a cowboy's saddle and he apparently wasn't kidding. "The seat ... is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle."

Menoud said he envisions airlines setting aside separate sections of aircraft with the extra-close seating for those willing to sacrifice room for a cheaper fare on flights of up to three hours. He said he's already seen interest from some unidentified U.S. carriers and if he gets some commitments he'll seek certification. "We feel extremely confident that this concept will ... have great appeal to airlines for economic purposes," he said.

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News Briefs back to top 

Air Zimbabwe Fires All Its Pilots

Zimbabwe's national airline has fired all of its pilots after they ignored a Friday deadline to end their strike. Air Zimbabwe pilots stopped flying Wednesday to pressure the cash-strapped airline into restoring full monthly salaries of $2,500 a month. Wages were cut in half in February. The BBC reported the airline says it doesn't have the money to meet the pilots' demands and that they should "consider themselves fired" for staying off the job. To put a fine point on it, airline chairman Jonathan Kadzura said the pilots "fired themselves by embarking on an illegal protest." The BBC did not say how many pilots are involved. Air Zimbabwe flies three Boeing 737-200s and two 767-200s along with three Chinese-built Xian MA60 turboprops. Sacking the pilots doesn't necessarily mean everyone else at the airline is out of a job, however, since Plan B involves a deal with a South African airline.

Kadzura said it will hire aircraft and pilots from Quaries to fly its domestic and regional routes. Other airlines and flight crews may also be pressed into service. There is no word when the subcontracted service will begin. In the meantime, about 1,000 passengers stranded by the chain of events have been put up in hotels.

Daley's Departure Sparks Hope For Meigs?

The coming departure of Mayor Richard Daley from Chicago has some aviators hoping the window has opened for a return of Meigs Field to Chicago, although there's currently no hard evidence to support that hope. Meigs Field was rendered unusable in the early hours of March 30, 2003, when Mayor Daley sent heavy construction equipment (unannounced) to alter the runway under cover of darkness. The move stranded some aircraft and ultimately landed the city of Chicago a fine from the FAA, but the airport was lost and now serves as a runway-less public park. Now, the Obama administration is pushing an infrastructure program that includes runway repaving projects, and Mayor Daley says he'll not seek re-election. But there's currently no indication that either one of those things would cause the park to be paved over and converted back into a functioning airport. AOPA, however, Thursday announced that it's supportive of those still seeking the return of Meigs and will work to explore opportunities to bring Meigs back. Other comments left by individuals online were more colorful.

AOPA head Craig Fuller said, "Reopening Meigs Field, with its easy access to Chicago's Loop, would allow businesses in The City That Works -- as Mayor Daley's father liked to refer to Chicago -- to work even more efficiently." Fuller's comments were supported by some left in response to an online Chicago news story. Among those that categorized airport interests as "elitist," we found the following response from a reader self-identified as J.T. Wentworth. It reads: "You know, us rich elitists are sick of paying higher taxes to fund railroads, hospitals, public schools and prisons for the semi-literate morons that make up 80 percent of this city. The least you could do is give us one stinking airport so we can be more efficient in funding the social programs you all seem to need so much." Another reader, self-identified as John, shared this opinion: "I'm a private pilot that flew in WI on Sunday and went for a jog today on Northerly Island (Meigs Field). In my opinion, in its current green state, this area of Chicago is getting much more use by people and animals than it did as an airport."

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Inspiration Is Where You Find It

Over on the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli confesses he doesn't need a motivational speech to take the Cub out for a hop — but it's sure nice to have an enthusiastic mechanic, nonetheless. While he's at it, he has some less-than-maudlin comments on the 9/11 anniversary.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: The Disaster That Is LASP

This security program is supposed to apply to large aircraft, but its impact could be widespread enough to affect even the smallest airports. Guest blogger John Hyle joins the AVweb Insider to argue that we need to be paying closer attention to encroaching (and entirely unnecessary) government security procedures.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Letter of the Week back to top 

AVmail: September 13, 2010

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: What Happened to the LSA Dream?

I was recently reminded of how fortunate I am to be flying. The other day, while I was working on my plane, a fellow pilot taxied up in his partner-owned Piper Arrow. After parking and securing the plane, with great care he washed and detailed the aircraft. When finished he walked over to me, handed me his David Clarks, leather flight bag complete with charts, E6B, and portable radio and walked away.

His only (very emotional) statement was: "I can't afford to fly anymore. I'm done. Please put these things to good use." I understand his pain and frustration. Several months ago I purchased an inexpensive experimental, a SoneraiII. I had previously owned a Cessna, but rising fuel, insurance, and maintenence fees drove me to sell — at a loss. It was that or give up flying altogether or until flying becomes more affordable.

Years ago, we were promised inexpensive sport airplanes that the "average" person could afford. What happened? As I search available new aircraft it seems that most are in the $80K-$100K+ price range. Where are the real airplanes we were hoping to see in the $30K range?

What I see available in that price range are not much more than glorified ultralights, hardly what I believe we were hoping for. Remember the statements "about the price of a new car"? It is my wish that someone would step up to the plate and develop a truly affordable aircraft. I earn an average income, and $100,000 is hardly affordable. If this does not happen, as hoped for, I believe the scene I saw played out will happen more and more.

Fred Lowerre

Faux Green

I just cannot see why electric planes and cars are promoted as "green" when every electrical power unit added simply extends the life of a coal-fired power station. Only when power generation goes green-only will electric aircraft be able to claim a green label.

Fred Spriggs

Spending and Debt

AOPA may believe throwing another $50,000,000,000 down a rat hole is a good thing, but I do not. AOPA may want to help spend the borrowed money effectively on worthwhile projects, but I do not. We are broke, $13 trillion plus dollars broke, and if AOPA does not understand that concept, they must not be paying attention. At the current rate of spending, our interest costs alone will completely fund the expenses of the Chinese military within a few short years. I wonder if those MiGs will have NextGen capabilities.

Jim Doody

Say Again

Why can't intersections be identified by numbers instead of crazy five-letter combinations? An ATC instruction that clears you to 56338 is more easily understood than, "Cleared to PATYY intersection" (a real intersection on V109 SE of ECA).

Safety is involved here. Attempting to pronounce a non-word or copy one in IMC is downright dangerous! I suggested this to NACO sometime ago but got no response.

Dan Sorkin

Shooting Ourselves in the Foot?

Sadly, as your survey results show, our aviation community fails to take responsibility for our image.

There's a current example from the Pacific Northwest: A Presidential TFR was established over Seattle, well advertised in advance. One of our brethren chose to fly his C180 on floats from Lake Chelan to Lake Washington without bothering to check for NOTAMS or use the flight following services of Seattle Center or Seattle Approach. His penetration of the protected airspace resulted in interception by two F-15s, creating sonic booms over Seattle in their haste to respond. It was so simple to avoid, so devastating to our image.

Mark Higbee

Satellite vs. ELT

I'd like to see the regs changed to allow a satellite-based continuous-update-of-position device made acceptable as an alternate means of compliance. Then pilots could decide which technology was best suited to their typical mission and area of operations.

Frank Van Haste

While ELTs do not work all the time, the same is true with satellite tracking. The expense of satellite tracking, both in installation and monthly/annual service fees, have to be considered against its false positive and missed reporting characteristics.

Craig Moen

Including such an option [satellite tracking] on ELTs would certainly narrow the search area if something goes wrong.

Bill Straw

Given that both the 121.5 and 406 ELTs use exactly the same abysmally undependable techniques for getting a signal out, why are we even wasting the money?

A satellite "breadcrumb" tracker with, say, only a minute or so interval between hits would be helpful once someone realized the aircraft was missing. But I question if the systems used by current trackers could cope with such a flood of transmissions and, if not, what would the overall cost rise to?

John Wilson

I am a little concerned about satellite tracking as it smacks of "big brother" getting waaaay too close. While I am not a drug runner or involved in any other negative activity, I do not want the government to be looking at me all the time, including when I am flying. This "service" would eventually evolve into a required-fees service and we would pay for the government's privelege to monitor us even closer.

Barry Anderson

Flying Car Dreams

Is the management at Terrafugia sipping the Kool-Aid? Your article about the company gearing up for "low volume production" had a little detail [that] really leapt out at me! Apparently, now the anticipated cost is "in the low to mid $200,000 range." If I remember correctly, the first quoted price estimate was $148,000, then $194,000, and now we're well into the $200,000-plus range!

Looks to me like the Terrafugia will soon join the ranks of the other roadable airplanes in history and that's not a history of success. Realistically, this plane will probably roll out the door costing even more that any of the estimates, be a toy for a few, very rich people, and quietly fade away.

It would be much more cost-effective to buy a good used four-place plane, keep a $100,000 of the savings over the Terrafugia in cash, and just buy an airport "junker" car anytime you get stuck at an airport and just give it away when you can fly again! Don't get me wrong, I don't think here is a thing that could be done to bring this in at a realistically marketable price. There just isn't any way to produce an "affordable" roadable airplane, just as there are no "cheap airplanes" or "economical jets."

John Austin

Now I Know

As someone with a ton of P210 time, I much enjoyed the Paul Bertorelli video on the turbine version.

Many years ago, a guy showed up at my home base of Nut Tree, CA with a rather rough-looking PT6 conversion of the airframe, and I got to fly it. It climbed like a rocket, but my recollection is that we were always bumping up against redline in cruise. It wasn't a very balanced package. I've always wondered what the O&N version was like, and now I know!

You have a nice publication, which I read daily. Thanks and best wishes.

Stephen Power

Embraer's Success

If Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback thinks that Brazilian government help is the main reason for Embraer outselling competitors, he ought to try flying one. They make the nicest cockpits I have ever seen and [the aircraft] fly beautifully.

Ian Hollingsworth
EMB 135-140-145

Engines and Motors

The Cri-Cri airplane, having electric motors for propulsion, is not a "four-engine" aircraft. It is a four-motor aircraft. There's no internal combustion involved. It's an interesting design, anyhow.

George McClellan


Rarely, if ever, does a letter to the AVweb editor outclass the perceptions and perspicuous reporting of the fine professionals there at AVweb. However, David MacRae's letter regarding what makes aviation newsworthy is an outstanding example of exactly that. He has succinctly conveyed the way things are, how they got that way, and why they will probably stay that way. Kudos to David MacRae.

Bruce Liddel

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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 

Video: No, the Little One Pulls the Big One

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

This video comes from an airport security camera, believed to be at New York's JFK, where a 747 got momentarily loose from the crew and pushed a tug across the ramp. Yeah, we know — it's supposed to work the other way around.

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Video: Turbocharged Sportsman TC

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

Glasair Aviation's Mikael Via introduces the new turbocharged, carbon-fiber-bodied Sportsman TC to Kitplanes editor-in-chief Mar Cook at EAA AirVenture 2010.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Port Meadville Airport (KGKJ, Meadville, PA)

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

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AVweb reader Roger Vaughn discovered our latest "FBO of the Week" at Port Meadville Airport (KGKJ) in Pennsylvania:

Two weeks prior to Labor Day, I called Pennsylvania airports looking for parking and a rental car. No guarantees were made ... [until] I spoke to Mark at Port Meadville. He took my name and N-number and said, "I'll take care of everything; have a safe flight." [On arrival at KGKJ] a voice came over the radio saying, "Follow me; I'm in a blue Blazer by the taxiway. ... When I got out of my plane and met the voice on the radio, it was Mark, [who helped push our Cessna into] a brand-new hangar. He then gave us a ride to the FBO where he handed me the keys to a rental car, gave me directions to the gate for accessing the hangars, and ... [let us drive] right up to the hangar to unload and depart for a relaxing vacation in a cabin by the lake.

I can't say enough about how attentive Mark was to our needs and the extra steps he took to make our visit an extremely pleasant one. Foul weather was looming for the first two days and then some strong winds blew through prior to our day of departure. We never had to give our plane a second thought, knowing it was safe from the elements.

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!

Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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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 PMA6000B Audio Panel from PS Engineering

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

You could win a PMA6000B audio panel from PS Engineering! 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, September 24, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Heard on the ATL Approach:

Cessna 123:
"ATL, can we get flight following?"

"123, give location."

Cessna 123:
"Squawk 0130, baro 30.21."

Cessna 123:
"South of VPC."

"123, you're squawking the baro pressure. Squawk 0130."

(He must have been partying late.)

Gary Austin
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.

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