AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 41a

October 11, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Rules and Reactions back to top 
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European IFR Pilots Work For Compromise

A group representing instrument-rated private pilots in Europe is hopeful that new unified standards for all IFR operations can be implemented without causing undue hardship for those who now fly under FAA certificates. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Jim Thorpe, vice chairman of PPL/IR Europe, said negotiations between the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the FAA toward standardized licensing requirements have failed and EASA's controversial move to make its own standards mandatory by 2012 is part of the process toward achieving the unified standard. FAA certificates are currently accepted in Europe and many pilots there fly on them because FAA standards require much less dual and ground school than those in Europe. He said the rules currently being proposed are intended for commercial pilots and he's hopeful a less onerous approach will be taken for the relatively few IFR-rated private pilots in Europe.

The new rules also affect maintenance and certification standards for aircraft but Thorpe said he doesn't think that will be a significant barrier to U.S.-made aircraft. "The proposals there are pretty benign now and there's really no reason an N-registered aircraft couldn't be operated in Europe," Thorpe said. He said the long-term goal should be a set of common standards but in the meantime he's hopeful that transitional regulations will ease the burden on pilots who will be affected by the changes.

FAA Proposes New Rules For Helicopters

The FAA is set to propose a broad set of rules intended to improve the safety of helicopter operations that would require additional equipment, training and communications, bring changes to flight rules, and much more. The FAA's proposals cover air ambulance, commercial helicopter, Part 91 and Part 135 helicopter operations. They attempt to specifically reduce accidents that involve controlled flight into terrain, obstacle collisions, night accidents, and those due to inadvertent flight into IMC. All commercial operators would have to equip their helicopters with radio altimeters. Helicopters carrying medical personnel would be conducted under Part 135, which means they would include applicable flight time and rest requirements, and load manifests. And the FAA intends to raise VFR weather minima and require additional VFR flight planning. The rules are set to be published on Oct. 12.

Specific to air ambulance operations, the FAA found that accidents generally increased from 2002 to 2008. Through that period, 2005 and 2006 saw a decline in accidents, but 2008 was the worst year on record. From 1992 to 2009, air ambulance accidents took 126 lives. The FAA estimates that the new rules (PDF) would cost the air ambulance industry about $136 million over ten years balanced against a $160 million benefit. Commercial operators would bear an $89 million coast with a $115 million benefit over ten years. The FAA plans to publish the rules Oct. 12 and will accept comments for 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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Casson Speak on OurPLANE Agreements back to top 

OurPLANE CEO Says Clients Were Offered Protection

The CEO of OurPLANE says the company is following the bankruptcy process to the letter. Graham Casson also told AVweb that all OurPLANE clients were given the legal means to protect their investment when they signed the five-year shared-use contract. Dozens of OurPLANE participants have come forward in recent days claiming they were not repaid for their share of the aircraft sold at the end of the five-year term. But Casson said the contract contained a clause that allowed clients to file an FAA lien against the aircraft and those who exercised that right have been refunded the secured amount. Those who did not file the liens have been named creditors in the bankruptcy. Casson said it's "unfortunate" there were clients who lost their investments but the company provided them with the legal means they needed to protect their money. "I can lead a horse to water...," he told AVweb. Casson wouldn't say if there was money left after the secured creditors were paid or what happened to it. He did, however, note that the market for used Cirruses is weak and he put their average value at less than $200,000, less than half the original purchase price. Casson also told AVweb that the demise of OurPLANE has nothing to do with his participation in a relatively new venture called Exclusive Jetz, a jet management company that currently looks after four Embraer Phenom 100s. Casson declined to discuss the structure of Exclusive Jetz or the level of his participation in it. Meanwhile, clients who appear set to lose their money in the bankruptcy are organizing.

According to AOPA one former client claims to have a group of 33 former customers who intend to pursue criminal action against Casson. The first meeting of creditors in the bankruptcy will be held Nov. 2 in Buffalo. Casson said OurPLANE was the victim of a "one-two punch" that sealed its fate despite his and his staff's best efforts. The first blow was the bankruptcy of Eclipse Aircraft. OurPLANE intended to operate a fleet of Eclipse 500s in addition to the SR22s. The financial collapse of late 2008 was the killing blow. It occurred as the original five-year contracts on the SR22s were expiring and hardly any of the customers renewed. That, he said, "eradicated the business."

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California Flight Schools: Legal Wrangling Continues back to top 

New Requirements For CA Flight Training Providers Delayed

A controversial law that opponents fear could have imposed new and potentially crippling fees on California flight schools and flight instructors may now be held up for further consideration thanks to legislative action, Friday. The concerns arose from SB 48, a bill passed earlier this year that authorizes the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) to regulate flight training "without input from the industry," according to the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). It was intended to protect students, but "would require flight schools to pay multiple new administrative fees and open their books to regulators," according to AOPA. Language included in SB 856, which was passed Friday by the California legislature, would delay mandatory compliance with SB 48 until July 2011. The new bill would also allow the California legislature to reconsider handing oversight of flight training to the BPPE. But there are still more steps to take.

The new language does not resolve the issue for California flight training. What it does is provide opponents with another chance to alter SB 48 in a way that does not add financial burdens to the flight training providers. NATA, AOPA and the flight training industry are serious about the fight. "Without this type of opportunity," said NATA Director of Regulatory Affairs Michael France, "the impact of the BPPE's regulations could be disastrous for flight training and the aviation industry in general." Signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger, SB 856 will provide the groups with more time to demonstrate their case to legislators.

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Speaking of Training ... back to top 

Colombian Air Force Flies Lancair Synergy

The Colombian Air Force (CAF) successfully flew its latest training aircraft, a Lancair kit-built design called the Synergy, for the first time last month, setting it among a handful of designs ever assembled in Colombia. The Synergy is a fixed-gear, two-place, side-by-side, Lycoming IO-390-powered design similar in appearance to the Lancair Legacy high-performance kit-built aircraft, but with a larger wing and tail. It was created as the result of a partnership between Lancair and the CAF. The test flight reportedly went well and the aircraft performed to expectations. The CAF plans to build and fly two more examples before year-end and complete the remainder of its 25 aircraft Synergy fleet by 2012.

Compared to the Lancair Legacy, the Synergy sports a wing that's 20 percent larger, with longer flaps. The vertical tail and rudder are also larger and more similar in shape to the Lancair Evolution. In the air, the changes make the Synergy a more docile training platform with a lower stall speed and more forgiving flight characteristics than the very high-performance Legacy. In the cockpit, the Synergy offers a center stick intended to facilitate the transition to higher-performance aircraft for trainee pilots.

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News Briefs back to top 

SpaceShipTwo Flies Free

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SpaceShipTwo, the spacecraft that will take paying passengers to the edge of space, had its first manned free flight Sunday, dropping from the launch aircraft mothership Eve 45,000 feet above the Mojave Desert. Owner Virgin Galactic said the spacecraft, now named VSS Enterprise, glided to successful landing 11 minutes later at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the high desert of California. On board were pilot Pete Siebold and copilot Mike Alsbury. Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson was on hand in Mojave with his trademark enthusiasm in full force. "Now, the sky is no longer the limit and we will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself over the next year," Branson said. All gushing aside, there were some substantial practical accomplishments achieved with the flight.

As the first commercial suborbital space venture, Virgin is being watched closely by government and the industry and safety is, of course, a primary consideration. All systems were checked, the reusable spacecraft's stall characteristics and general flight behavior were assessed and actual performance was checked against data projected by simulation. Siebold and Alsbury got in one practice approach at altitude before heading for the real thing. "The VSS Enterprise was a real joy to fly, especially when one considers the fact that the vehicle has been designed not only to be a Mach 3.5 spaceship capable of going into space but also one of the worlds highest altitude gliders," Siebold said.

FAA On Lithium Batteries

The FAA Friday released a Safety Alert to address "risks in transporting lithium batteries in cargo by aircraft," noting that UPS Flight 006, a 747 that crashed on Sept. 3, was carrying large quantities of lithium batteries. Fire was reported on the UPS flight but the FAA notes that a cause of the crash has not yet been determined. The crash destroyed the aircraft and killed the crew. The FAA has found that lithium metal batteries are not only "highly flammable and capable of ignition" but also possess destructive explosive potential. The agency says Halon 1301, the fire suppression agent found in Class C cargo holds, "is ineffective in controlling a lithium metal cell fire" and lithium metal battery explosions can lead to "rapid fire spread" in cargo compartments. Lithium-ion batteries are somewhat different. They can exhibit the same thermal runaway as lithium metal batteries, but the FAA says Halon 1301 is capable of suppressing lithium-ion battery fires. The FAA's recommendations are limited to batteries flown in cargo holds and do not apply to batteries carried by passengers or crew. The FAA is considering courses for further action.

The FAA recommends that all carriers attempt to identify lithium batteries and stow bulk shipments in Class C cargo compartments "or in locations where alternative fire suppression is available." It encourages carriers to evaluate their training stowage and communication protocols with respect to "the transportation and of lithium batteries in the event of an unrelated fire" and requests that carriers pay special attention to ensure safe handling and compliance with regulations covering Class 9 hazardous materials. At present, there are "no approved and tested containers that can contain the known effects of accidental lithium metal battery ignition." Access the FAA's flammability assessments through links at the bottom of the second page of the Safety Alert (PDF).

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: FAA's EMS Regs — Overdue?

Normally, we're the first to squawk about heavy-handed and unnecessary FAA regulation, but the agency's proposed rules to tighten down EMS operations is probably a good thing, especially if it gets the industry thinking out how these services are used and, unfortunately, overused. Paul Bertorelli has more thoughts on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Here's an Idea — Why Not Practice?

Paul Bertorelli has been blogging about instructing and maintaining proficiency in a taildragger. But the NTSB's accident data shows many pilots can't land anything, much less something with a wheel at the back. The solution is simple, says Paul on the AVweb Insider blog: Don't get an instructor; go practice — and do it regularly.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

AVmail: October 11, 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: Where the Manfacturers Stumble?

Regarding the story about Piper laying off workers:

I have been in the aircraft sales industry since 1975. Not just Piper but all aircraft manufacturers have lost sight of what they are supposed to be marketing. The manufacturers are no longer in the airframe business but have moved to the avionics business. They no longer offer affordable aircraft for those who want a single-engine, four-place, entry-level machine.

For example, when I started selling the Piper Archer, a single-engine, four-place aircraft, fully equipped in 1978, they where $38,000. Today, if you look at a new Archer, it is equipped with an avionics package that is way overkill for the aircraft's capability and starts around $300,000. It is not just Piper; it is all airframe manufacturers. The focus is on turbo-prop and single-engine jets.

Sure, you can make as much money selling one jet as you can ten single-engine aircraft. However, there are few people who can afford or fly the jet. You have to start with basic aircraft and move people up. If the manufacturers don't wake up, they might as well close the doors and look for another career right now. I know the cost of construction is up for an airframe, but why not leave some of the overkill avionics as an option and start selling aircraft again?

I moved away from the new market and went to the clean, low-time, moderately equipped used small aircraft, and there is still a market, even with the current economy. I have been a regional sales manager for an airframe manufacturer and operated my own aircraft sales company. So I have had a look at aviation from several viewpoints.

If anyone can ever get the attention of the manufacturers, the buyers are out there.

Don MacGregor

The Digital Photo Age

In regards to this post: "Photo compositing usually draws a few complaints from AVweb readers when it finds its way into the top five — but this combined shot — the diver and the eagle were two different photos — is too good to leave out of the mix":

I really feel strongly that these combined images have no place in AVweb. This is not a forum for "art" in the sense of impressionism or cubism, which can easily be done in PhotoShop. Posting these kinds of photographs puts AVweb, and the media in general, on a slippery slope. Pretty soon, when a spectacular one-shot image appears, people will immediately think, "Oh, it is probably not real."

That is the price you pay for allowing fabricated images on the site. It also reduces the impact of truly amazing images when they appear. I call to mind the images of the Jack Roush crash where the photographers in the foreground are running and dirt is flying as the jet impacts the grass. Now that was a dramatic image!

It is my opinion that allowing fabricated images diminishes your credibility. That's why most good newspapers in the country have very specific guidelines for working on photographs in PhotoShop, and why there are several instances of staff photographers being fired for not adhering to the guidelines. I recommend you stop posting fabricated images.

Ken Spencer

AVweb Replies:

Solid points, Ken — and chief among the reasons we rarely run composited photos in either "Picture of the Week" or the slideshow. I might disagree a little with the notion that "POTW" photos have any bearing on the credibility of our reporting, though. (We'd never dream of running breaking news stories with the casual, jokey tone of "POTW," nor would we ever use a doctored photo alongside a news story.)

Scott Simmons
"POTW" Editor

That photo "Lolly's First Flight" made my day. It made me laugh out loud seeing the excited expression on that kid's face. Priceless.

John Hogan

"Canada's Meigs" Is Thriving

To get Meigs Field up and operational again, public support is required.

To obtain general public support, Meigs Field should become the terminal for just one regional air carrier.

Toronto has had a waterfront airport in operation for over 50 years, and many politicians voted that it be closed. But five years ago, Porter Airlines, a scheduled airline company, started operating from there. Their dozens of daily flights have been an outstanding success. Now the public and politicians consider the waterfront airport to be of great benefit to the entire municipality.

The airport still serves general aviation.

Chicago should do likewise in order to get Meigs Fields back into operation, because it can serve the general public needs for scheduled "downtown" air transportation.

Bill Peppler

An Aircraft Is an Airplane Is a ...

Regarding the Question of the Week:

According to the online Oxford English Dictionary, an airplane is "a powered flying vehicle with fixed wings and a weight greater than that of the air it displaces." In my opinion, the first response, "anything that uses aerodynamic forces to keep itself aloft ...," does not fit that definition because it includes birds, which have folding (not fixed) wings. It also includes helicopters, which have rotary wings.

Manuel Erickson

Something a lot of pilots overlook is what defined an airplane during the genesis of powered flight. If the Wright Flyer had looked more like a "standard" airplane and was introduced as a new LSA today, people would laugh and make snide remarks. Light Sport Aircraft by their very title encompass much more than just a conventional airplane. If it flies, it's an aircraft, regardless of configuration.

While I would not want a Maverick for serious traveling, it could be fun, for example, to explore the vast Southwest desert. You could fly to an interesting area, land on any level area large enough, then drive to more remote locations. Sounds like fun and could not be done with a conventional airplane.

Roger McMullen

Rest Stops Lacking

I just got back today from the Midwest LSA Expo. Airventure Oshkosh, Sun 'n Fun and now the LSA Expo provide very few places an attendee can be seated for a short rest period. Oshkosh has a few. SNF and Midwest LSA had none that I could find.

There are thousands of elderly people attending these events, and the only recourse is to bring your own folding chair or sit on your fist and lean back on your thumb (1930 remark). Get with it. I'm 84 but still flying.

Jake Williams

Gatineau Is in Quebec

You identified Wings Over Gatineau as an Ontario (Canada) event. I had the pleaseure of attending the event, and I must point out that Gatineau is located in our sister province, Quebec, not in Ontario.

Allen Lyon

European Issues

I have dealt with the European community on issues such as this in the electonics industry for years. Products within the EC flow freely between borders with no checking or regulation visible. If you try to bring something into the EC from the U.S. they scrutinize everything and deny a lot.

What this all boils down to is that the EC is a protectionist regime and institutes policies that protect or enhance markets and products, making their products less costly. The U.S. government needs to do the same thing to them. Void all European (EC) licenses and aircraft. This might, at least, get them to back down. It is a two-way street. The U.S. just doesn't have the gumption to play their game. Maybe a new Congress will do something.

Roger Bocox

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

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: London-Corbin Airport (KLOZ, London, KY)

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

AVweb reader Bob Klee recently benefited from top-notch service at London-Corbin Airport (KLOZ) in London, Kentucky — and that's why we're naming the facility at L-C our "FBO of the Week." Bob wrote:

[I] called them to say I might not be able to get there before they closed on a Sunday night [and asked], if possible, could they leave a hangar open and keys to the courtesy car hidden somewhere for me. John stayed till I arrived at 7:30, led me to my hangar and helped me with my stuff! ... I've always had good service here, but this was above and beyond. [There are] always friendly, helpful people at this small airport, and they deserve to be recognized. They just flat understand putting the customer first!

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

Flying with the FAA in Europe

File Size 9.6 MB / Running Time 10:30

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The European Aviation Safety Agency is proposing rules that will certainly change the way those with FAA certificates and N-registered aircraft will exercise their privileges. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Jim Thorpe, vice chairman of PPL/IR Europe, a group that represents private pilots with IFR ratings, about the potential impact of the rules and how the burden may be eased.

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Click here to listen. (9.6 MB, 10:30)

Video: Poplar Grove Airport, Summer 2010

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

Airplanes are clearly a passion for the Thomas family, and they're pretty handy with a video camera and editing software, too. Steve and his wife Tina own Poplar Grove Airmotive, a full-service maintenance shop at Poplar Grove Airport (which they also own) in Illinois. Their personal aircraft are a Waco SRE, a Beech 18 and a Brunner-Wingle Bird, and they paid tribute to their airplanes this way.

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Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

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

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

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.

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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 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

A student pilot was doing touch-and-goes at Sioux Falls Regional Airport (South Dakota) and had just completed his third one.

"Piper 123, what are your intentions?"

Student [after a long pause] :

Larry Vetterman
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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