AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 40a

October 4, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Air Safety in the News back to top 
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Plane-Tracking Phone App Raises Security Worries

Even the early critics of ADS-B, who warned that broadcasting the position, type and altitude of individual aircraft might help terrorists target specific aircraft, probably didn't envision pointing a cellphone at an aircraft in flight and getting all those details. But a British software company has released a $3 iPhone/iPad and Android application called Plane Finder AR that matches the real-time ADS-B signals of passing aircraft with a database built by ADS-B-equipped planespotters and displays the ID of the plane, altitude and destination. The "AR" stands for "Augmented Reality" and it's the feature that has furrowed the brows of British lawmakers. Pointing the phone's camera at the aircraft will superimpose the aircraft's bearing and range on the screen.

Conservative member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Mercer, a former chairman of the government's counter-terrorism committee, told the Daily Mail that the app and any like it should be banned. "Anything that makes it easier for our enemies to find targets is madness," he said. "The Government must look at outlawing the marketing of such equipment." The software developers, Pinkfroot, said the non-hobby applications were considered and they dumbed the system down a little. "It is only real-time to an extent - it is about 30 seconds behind. If someone really wants to do that [shoot down a jet] they could buy their own ADS-B or radar," said Pinkfroot director Lee Armstrong.

Blimp Collides With Aerostat In Storm

An unmanned aerostat was struck by a manned airship at roughly 9:15 p.m. Thursday, in high winds, during a heavy rainstorm at Elizabeth City, N.C, leaving one man seriously injured. The accident took place at a TCOM facility. TCOM is a blimp manufacturer and maintenance company. The 216-foot manned Skyship 600-series blimp had been tethered, but broke free and collided with the aerostat. Multiple early reports state the pilot of the manned blimp survived the accident but suffered head, limb, and possible abdominal injuries. His aircraft was lifted up about 60 feet before it struck the aerostat and crashed. Both the blimp and the aerostat were destroyed.

TCOM aerostats are unmanned tethered balloons intended to serve as surveillance communications or early warning platforms. The Skyship 600 carries a 13-person gondola (including the pilot) and is capable of 65 mph with a normal cruise of 35. It is powered by two Porsche 930 engines (225 hp each) or two Lycoming TIO-540 300-hp engines. TCOM told local news that the pilot of the Skyship was not a TCOM employee.

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Footing the Bill — In Space and In the Air Space back to top 

Space Grants Approved, FAA Funding Temporarily Extended

The FAA will provide four projects with grants as part of the NASA reauthorization bill and a federal effort to ensure the U.S. "remains the world leader in space development and exploration," according to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. The projects will direct funding to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority for automated weather observation; the Alaska Aerospace Corporation for a rocket motor storage facility; the East Kern District in Mojave, Calif., for an emergency response vehicle; and the Hacksonville Airport Authority in Florida to devise a master plan for a spaceport at Cecil Field. The grants range from about $40,000 to nearly $105,000 and are part of the NASA reauthorization bill, which backs commercial crew and cargo programs with $1.6 billion. The FAA's own reauthorization bill was substituted with another three-month extension on Sept. 24 (the 16th, we think ... if you're still counting).

The extension means that a full FAA reauthorization bill will not be up for a vote until December at the earliest, and the House and Senate have yet to reach agreement on particulars of the bill. The last time the House and Senate passed an extension, it was the end of July. At that time, sticking points included passenger facility charge increases and certain handling of airspace near Washington National Airport. New pilot safety requirements were proposed separately in September. That action may remove some public urgency and attention from the full reauthorization bill.

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New Aircraft back to top 

Bombardier Confirms New Large Bizjet

Bombardier has confirmed it will launch a new model of large-cabin ultra-long-range business jet in answer to Gulfstream's development of the G650. The G650, which is now in flight tests, is about 20 percent larger and has a maximum range of 7,000 nm, about 650 nm farther than the Global Express XRS, the latest model. Gulfstream also says the G650 will have a maximum speed of .925 Mach, compared to the XRS's .89. As we reported in September, Bombardier will unveil the new aircraft at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Atlanta later this month, Bombardier CEO Guy Hachey told Bloomberg his company isn't about to surrender what it considers to be its supremacy in the large business aircraft market. "Our intention is to grow our leadership position and the time is right to move forward with our extended Global aircraft family," he said.

What he didn't say was whether the new plane will be a clean-sheet design or an extended and re-engined version of the XRS. George Tsopeis, a former Bombardier executive, told the Montreal Gazette two weeks ago his money is on the stretch model with the same engines used on the G650 (Rolls Royce BR725). It's also a safe bet the new model will have updated avionics and a new cabin-management system.

Daher Socata Looks At SPn Jet

The TBM 850 single-engine turboprop and TBGT piston singles produced by Daher Socata may get a stablemate if the company's evaluation of what was Grob Aerospace's SPn business jet grows roots. The SPn had earned more than 100 orders before development stopped, and before a 2006 crash killed Grob's chief SPn test pilot, Gerard Guillaumaud, during a demonstration flight of a prototype. The project continued after that episode, but Grob Aerospace announced its insolvency in 2008 following repeated delays in the jet's flight-test program. Socata's interest in the jet reportedly could evolve into an all-composite twin-engine business jet program for itself, derived from the SPn platform.

Currently, Allied Aviation Technologies owns the assets of the SPn program, including three advanced-stage SPn prototypes. Arrangements with Socata have been made through Niall Olver, former Grob Aerospace CEO and present chief executive of ExecuJet. Olver believes the program could have been within two years of full certification when work was shut down and that the design itself had almost been frozen in preparation for certification testing.

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Captains and Crises back to top 

BA038 Crash Captain Rehired By British Airways

Peter Burkill, the captain of a British Airways Boeing 777 that crashed short of the runway at Heathrow with no fatalities in 2008, is now back at his old job. Burkill left the airline citing difficulties with co-workers after the accident. Investigators ultimately blamed the crash on ice that formed in the aircraft's fuel lines and determined Burkill's actions had extended the aircraft's glide, perhaps helping it miss buildings and structures near the airport's perimeter. But shortly after the crash and before the investigation was complete, Burkill said he faced coworkers who'd been told by their trainers that he'd frozen at the controls and that that environment ultimately led him to quit. AVweb's Glenn Pew conducted podcast interviews with Burkill about the crash and the aftermath, and those are still available online. Burkill's blog about his experience soon won't be.

After leaving British Airways, Burkill says that job offers from other companies fell through and he soon found himself, a married man with three children, on welfare. He wrote a book about his experience and sold it online, where he also shared his story. Now, Burkill says, "As a British Airways employee, I will comply with British Airways rules on Social Media interaction and for this reason I will shortly be closing down my website and blog." It's not clear what will become of his book. As for British Airways, "Mr. Burkill was not forced out. He was among a number of pilots who took voluntary redundancy but we are now taking him back again." According to the airline, upon his return, "He will be a captain and he will fly Boeing 777s."

Sully Lands Movie Deal

The Hero of the Hudson has landed a Hollywood deal. Variety is reporting that heavyweight film development firms Flashlight Films and Kennedy/Marshall Co. have reached a deal with former U.S. Airways Capt. Chesley Sullenberger for the rights to the film about his involvement in the successful ditching of an A320 in the Hudson River in January of 2009. There were no fatalities and only a few injuries among the 155 people on board. The movie will be an adaptation of Sullenberger's book Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters. The project is now with writers and it hasn't been decided whether it will be a TV movie or theater release. Nor has there been a decision on who will play Sullenberger, but the genesis of the current deal may offer some clues.

Variety says Sullenberger had received several offers for movie rights but was nervous of optioning them. He met Harrison Ford at an aviation event and asked the veteran actor and longtime pilot's advice. Ford recommended he contact Kennedy/Marshall, who were the producers of the Indiana Jones movies. According to Variety, Ford is "not attached" to the project. Whoever ends up filling Sully's left seat can expect to get a lesson in airline flying. Sullenberger and his wife Lorrie will act as consultants on the film.

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New on AVweb.com: Something in the Air back to top 

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Brainteasers Quiz #152: Master the Forces of the Universe


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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Old Myths Die Hard

One of them is that the only real pilots are taildragger pilots. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli says he never really believed that. But what's this? He's changing his tune? And now he thinks the ideal trainer is a Cub with a glass panel? Go read the blog and help reel this man back to reality.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Without a Trace

Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis were equipped with the latest in tracking technology when they disappeared over the Adriatic Sea. On the AVweb Insider blog, Mary Grady asks the quetion on many minds: Shouldn't we be able to build this stuff so it survives a crash and tells us where it happened?

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

AVmail: October 4, 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.

Why Through-The-Fence Agreements Work

The argument that federal funds should not subsidize airport use by residential through-the-fence users can be negated by ensuring those users pay their fair share for access to the airport. Fair share could be construed as equivalent to a based aircraft tiedown fee. This is not altogether different from charging a commercial through-the-fence user the same access fee. Also, through-the-fence users should not be allowed to store their own fuel but rather purchase from the FBO at the airport.

On another issue, it is hard to imagine that residential through-the-fence users would complain about aircraft noise impacts. People in glass houses don't throw stones.

Security issues at general aviation airports have been an issue that is still unresolved. Somehow, as an industry, we need to know that those obtaining access to the airside are trusted to be there. Through the fence users can be cleared by law enforcement. Their passengers cannot be treated that way, so the aircraft operator must assume that responsibility. Isn't that what is done at general aviation airports now? It should apply to through-the-fence users as well.

There is a simple way to allow any type of through-the-fence users at federally obligated airports, if those responsible for policy will just think it through. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Ronald Price

Why They Might Not

I do hope you'll give equal time to the other respondents at the hearing, Russ. This is a complicated issue and all sides deserve to be heard in order that a reasonable solution can be reached. If you know airports, then you know that [Acting Associate Administrator for Airports] Catherine Lang has been a tireless proponent for airport development and a voice of reason in the FAA.

I've read her testimony and that of the others and I think Dr. Blue has portrayed a sensationalist view of what was said and unfairly characterized it in order to further his own position. There are good points on both sides of this issue. Let's try and listen to them all so we can find the best solution for all.

Greg Phillips

If a person or corporation owns private property that adjoins an airport, the government will need to acquire the property for expansion in any case, either through purchase or eminent domain. The existing use of the property is moot.

To deny the owner of private property adjacent to a publicly funded airport is the same as denying driveway access to the street. Access to the national transportation infrastructure is being restricted.

The access infrastructure costs, taxiway extensions fencing, gates etc. should be borne by the private landowners.

The private landowners accessing the airport through the fence should pay fees to the airport equivalent to tie down and fuel flowage fees which are traditional sources of airport maintenance funds.

Well done through the fence agreements could increase airport utilization with no increase in costs.

J. T. Blimling

Limiting or eliminating TTFs will, according to the FAA and NATA, encourage or at least not limit airport expansion and development. Rubbish! What airport development and expansion? There certainly isn't any anywhere near to where I live. There is, however, airport elimination, and that is becoming the norm throughout the U.S.

As an example, a small airport in the northwest corner of Connecticut (the only paved runway in the entire northwest corner of the state) was closed. It was eligible for federal and state development funding but was closed instead by fear-mongering neighbors (who moved in long after the airport was in operation).

It could have been developed as a small municipal airport, a legitimate fly-in community or as a TTF upon which property values of these hostile neighbors would have soared. NIMBY is alive and well in CT. In the right circumstance, TTFs could actually save an otherwise doomed airport and they don't build any more airports in the Northeast U.S., just turn them into corn fields or condos. The FAA and NATA are not living in the real world.

Hal Mandly

I see no reason why a properly planned and managed through the fence arrangement can't work at general aviation airports. In fact, access agreements, business arrangements, and access fees may be what saves a number of our dwindling airfields.

The issue is maintaining public access and adequate growth potential. What we do want to avoid is the continued conversion of public assets (built and maintained with public funds) to private control and or ownership (still maintained with public funds.)

Go to the Citizens for Lake Texoma web site to read about one such process.

Dave McGhee

Typical federal government B.S. Turn a blind eye toward a porous border but enact rules to limit access to those who have a legitimate need of a facility.

As Bill Lear so aptly put it, "the FAA is nothing more than a carbuncle on the ass of progress and has set aviation back at least 20 years."

Marion Seckinger

I live on a residential airpark, thankfully a private, public use one. I have looked at airparks all over the country, and my informed opinion is that this is yet another case of the FAA and the US government creating the illusion of a problem where one does not exist.

Besides the obvious point that pilot neighbors are unlikely to complain about noise, we also keep close tabs on the activity at our airport, 24 hours a day. Security? You bet. With all the real and serious problems confronting our country today, it defies logic to understand why our esteemed leaders think this is an important issue to waste time on. Amazing. Another example of ever-expanding power of the federal government as it intrudes ever deeper into our lives.

Bill McClure

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: The Story of Red Bull's Aerobatic Heli (And Pilot Chuck Aaron)

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Lawrenceville/Brunswick Municipal Airport (KLVL, Lawrenceville, VA)

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

Cris Methvin describes our latest "FBO of the Week" as "a quiet and picturesque airfield in rural Virginia where you will not find a luxury crew car or a maze of cubical crash pads." So what does Lawrenceville/Brunswick Municipal Airport have to offer instead? "A huge amount of coustomer service and great southern hospitality." Cris reports, "I was met by the president of the airport and the field manager, a warm greeting, breakfast, low fuel prices and great conversation. Very relaxing atmosphere and accomidating staff attended to my aircraft and made it a memorable visit."

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!

Help Us Celebrate AVweb's 15th Anniversary back to top 

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win a Lightspeed Zulu Headset

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

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)

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"

On a snowy afternoon at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, the arrival spacing turned out to be inadequate for the as-yet-unplowed runway:

"Commuter 1234: Runway 14R, cleared to land. request braking report. Braking is reported fair, but if you can make taxiway T5 for spacing, it will help the heavy behind you."

"Commuter 1234. We'll try."

Tower (moments later) :
"Airliner 567 Heavy, go around. Aircraft on the runway." [Then issues missed approach instructions.]

"Sorry about that."

"Thanks for trying, Commuter 1234. Hey, how do you rate the braking?"

"Poor, I guess."

Chris Bardon
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.

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