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Volume 16, Number 39b
September 30, 2010
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American gas-balloon pilots Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis went missing over the Adriatic Sea, between Italy and Croatia, on Wednesday morning, and as night fell rescuers had turned up no sign of them. The two pilots are competing in the annual Gordon Bennett International Gas Balloon Race, which launched from southern England on Saturday night. As of Wednesday morning all the other 19 teams, including two from the U.S., had landed safely. Ground crews and air traffic control both lost communication with the missing pilots about the same time, and no emergency signals have been detected. Thunderstorms and rough seas were reported in the area. More...

Vertical Power VP-X System from Aircraft 
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An instructor and student flying a Spartan School of Aeronautics 1980 Cessna 172RG survived an onboard fire and off-airport emergency landing in Oklahoma, Tuesday, if somewhat worse for the wear. Instructor Jade Schiewe, 28, and student Zachary Pfaff, 26, were confronted with smoke and flames coming up from the floorboard area while on a training flight. Schiewe got on the radio and reported fire in the cockpit along with a mayday call before setting the aircraft down in a field a few miles west of Jones River Airport. Both Schiewe and Pfaff escaped the aircraft, but Schiewe suffered burns. After landing, the aircraft and the area surrounding it, were soon fully engulfed in flames. More...

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A U.S. District Judge found that plaintiffs failed to show that United Airlines' merger with Continental would create a monopoly and ruled Tuesday that the merger shouldn't be blocked on antitrust grounds. Attorney Joseph Alioto, who filed the suit on behalf of consumers said he will appeal the ruling. United and Continental expect their merger to close, Friday. They expect to operate separately until they receive paperwork from the FAA later in October. Alioto says the merger will create an entity that is "too big to fail." Alioto's opinion aside, the $3.17 billion deal that is United's acquisition of Continental will create the world's largest carrier. According to Alioto, "There's very little regard for their passengers and everybody seems to know it." The airlines argued in court that the merger would bring stability to the industry and allow cost savings to be passed to consumers. Meanwhile, analysts are considering what other airlines may do to compete with the new mega-airline. More...

A pilot who admits that he changed weight and balance calculations and knew that a captain was not fit to fly and said nothing has pleaded guilty to federal charges in New Jersey. Francis Viera, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., worked for Platinum Jet Management, based in Florida, and said he flew charters for the company although the company wasn't properly certified to offer such flights. Five others associated with the company are facing various federal charges, which were brought after a company jet crashed in Newark in February 2005. The Bombardier Challenger CL-600-1A11 jet failed to take off, skidded through an airport fence, and ran into a warehouse, injuring 11 people in the airplane and 3 on the ground. Viera was not on board for the accident flight. The captain on that flight is among those facing charges. More...

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Eurocopter announced this week that it has begun test flights of the X3, a technology demonstrator for its project to develop a high-speed, long-range hybrid helicopter that will combine vertical takeoff and landing capabilities with cruise speeds of more than 220 knots. The X3 is equipped with two turboshaft engines that power the five-blade main rotor system. The two engines also power two propellers that are installed on short-span fixed wings. This hybrid system produces the speed of a turboprop aircraft plus the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter, according to the company. The aircraft is expected to be used for search and rescue, border patrol, troop transport, and medical evacuation, Eurocopter said. The U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. recently announced that its X2 technology demonstrator had reached a speed of 250 knots in level flight, setting an unofficial speed record for helicopters. More...

Canada's first-ever EAA fly-in drew about 15,000 visitors for the inaugural event just over a week ago, but turnout was disappointing at a light sport aircraft expo in southern Illinois last week, according to the organizers of both events. Nearly 15,000 visitors turned up for the Wings Over Gatineau/Canadian EAA Convention/Fly-in in Ontario, EAA said. The event also featured a 70th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Britain. About 100 aircraft showed up despite foggy conditions that canceled some arrivals. The second annual Midwest LSA Expo was "wonderfully run," according to a report at, but the hoped-for crowds failed to materialize; and while serious shoppers turned out to look, few seemed ready to buy. Challenging weather didn't help, with stiff winds and 95-degree temperatures for the show start. However, the organizers plan to try again next year, perhaps shifting the dates from Thursday-to-Saturday to Friday-to-Sunday. More...

Pilatus PC-12 NG
Exhilaration: Found
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Pilatus. Destination: Found
What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Weekback to top 

The "bonus depreciation" extension that aircraft manufacturers had lobbied for is now law. President Barack Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act, which contains the provision, on Monday. "As the one tax provision we asked Congress to pass to help offset the decline in sales due to the recession, we are optimistic that the small-business law will help to re-energize America's general-aviation production lines and bring back lost jobs," said Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The law is effective as of Monday and applies to businesses' tax returns for 2010, according to the White House. The bonus depreciation item enables businesses to accelerate the rate at which they deduct capital expenditures. More...

Lockheed Martin's contract to run the automated flight service station system has been extended for three years at a price of $356 million. The company announced the agreement Tuesday. The three-year extension begins Oct. 1. Lockheed Martin took over the AFSS function in 2005 and substantially trimmed the number of flight service stations and staff. "Lockheed Martin is proud of the service its flight service specialists provide to the general aviation industry," said Jim Derr, Lockheed Martin Flight Service Program Director. "We are excited to have the opportunity to continue providing the most accurate and reliable flight service briefings available. More...


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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

Stick with me on this, says Paul Bertorelli his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog. He argues that digging GA out the doldrums is tied inextricably to the general economy, which is itself being battered by productivity gains that make disposable income, at least temporarily, a thing of the past. Companies will have to both hire new workers and pay them more. Read more and join the conversation. More...

Fewer than seven percent of pilots are women. Why is that? In this guest post to the AVweb Insider blog, flight instructor (and ATP) Mireille Goyer argues the aviation culture discourages young women from becoming pilots even if it embraces them after their trial by fire. More...

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


UAVs (Pro) ...

You know, I don't see where the problem is. It isn't like a UAV is not in control by someone. Just make it mandatory that they fly on an IFR flight plan and let them go.

As long as the operator is in contact with ATC (just like an onboard pilot is), it should be fine. I'm O.K. with sharing airspace with them when I'm VFR. Most of the time I'm getting advisories anyway, and how many times, even when getting advisories, do you not even see the other aircraft before it's not a conflict?

The UAVs ought to be restricted from busy air space, but, other than that, let them fly. I'm more concerned with what they are doing while flying in domestic airspace and object to their operations based on civil liberties [rather] than whether they will be a flight hazard. But for training missions, I say let them fly.

Gary Caron

... And UAVs (Con)

The Air Force has plenty of training areas and doesn't need more in North Dakota. Predators should be deployed in active war zones, and training can be accomplished near those areas. There's nothing more realistic than learning to fly UAVs in the mountains of Afghanistan, rather than the fields of North Dakota.

Besides, Customs and Border Protection is responsible for border protection, not the Air Force, so let's not use that ploy. Using all these high-tech toys in the U.S. has done nothing other than to bankrupt the taxpayers. We already know how to secure the borders, but it's dirty and dangerous and not nearly as glamorous as cool UAVs prowling the skies.

Glenn Juber

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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 What have you heard? More...

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Engineered from the ground up, the all-new Ascend headset by Telex is finely tuned to provide superior performance in a bold new design.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

Chuck Aaron is an FAA-certified aerobatic helicopter pilot. And he flies for Red Bull. The helicopter is a modified Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm BO-105. Aaron can be seen flying at Red Bull events. More...

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Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversaryback to top 

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 

Win a Lightspeed Zulu aviation headset 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 October 15, 2010.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

Congratulations to Ronald C. Hanna of Independence, Oregon, who won our last prize, a PMA6000B audio panel! (click here to get your own from PS Engineering)


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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


Conoco-Phillips WingPoints || Under Our 
Wings, Reward Yourself a Latte || Click to Get Your Card

AVweb reader Dale Davis discovered our latest "FBO of the Week" at Sugar Land Regional Airport (KSGR) in Sugar Land, Texas. "Beautiful interior design, multiple seating areas in stylish leather, a boutique gift shop, museum, clean restrooms and a full-service, friendly staff" put Sugar Land at the top of Dale's list, and his recommendations puts it at the top of ours.

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

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


Reader-Submitted Photosback to top 

We wrapped things up Monday with a rainbow shot, and that's how we kick things off in our latest installment of "Picture of the Week." Michael Barnett of Woodlands, Texas was standing by the window at an FBO at Eagle, Colorado's KEGE he caught sight of the rainbow. Luckily for us, he had his camera phone handy ... . More...

Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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

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