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The FAA's aviation safety bill passed earlier this year, but a new report suggests the included prerequisite 1,500 hours flight experience for commercial airline copilots may not be necessary. An
FAA advisory committee led by a regional airline official has proposed that 500 actual flight hours may be enough. Language in the safety legislation says that the FAA Administrator "may allow
specific academic training courses ... to be credited toward the total flight hours required." The committee suggests that through an elaborate structure of training courses, up to two-thirds of the
safety law's required 1,500 flight hours could be satisfied with other credited training. The proposal is merely a recommendation and it is not clear that there is any wiggle room in other language
that specifically imposes the flight hours requirement. Meanwhile, the proposal has reignited the total hours versus quality-of-training argument. And pilot groups, industry voices and safety
advocates are weighing in.
Legislators who fought for the safety bill's language say the law explicitly requires 1,500 flight hours, and any modifications must be justified by a resultant increase in safety. The president of
the Regional Airline Association, Roger Cohen, has a different opinion. Cohen said academic work is "far more useful in training pilots for modern airline operations" than hours spent "towing banners
above the beach." As for the FAA, Administrator Randy Babbitt supports improved training over a general requirement for more flight hours. Babbitt has previously commented on the subject, saying
"experience is not measured by flight time alone." The Regional Airline Association holds the view that a "proper mix of the experience and academic/training approaches" would best ensure safety. And
two pilot groups represented on the committee have split on the issue. The Air Line Pilots Association backed the committee's recommendations, while the Coalition of Air Line Pilot Associations
supported experience over even enhanced training.
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As recently as last weekend, a Red Bull Stratos team member told AVweb all was going well and the jump was planned for this year,
but on Tuesday the team said the project is on hold pending the resolution of a lawsuit. The Stratos team announced early this year that it would launch a helium balloon to 120,000 feet, where Felix
Baumgartner would jump out and return to Earth by parachute, to beat the longstanding free-fall record held by Col. Joe Kittinger. On Tuesday, a brief news release said that "Red Bull GmbH and Red
Bull North America, Inc., have decided to stop the Red Bull Stratos program with immediate effect." A lawsuit was filed in April in Los Angeles Superior Court by Daniel Hogan, who says that in 2004 he
pitched the idea to Red Bull to break Kittinger's record, and the company talked with him about the project for a year before backing out. In its statement, Red Bull said it has "acted appropriately
... and will demonstrate this as the case progresses."
Red Bull's statement continues: "Despite the fact that many other people over the past 50 years have tried to break Colonel (Ret.) Joe Kittinger's record, and that other individuals have sought to
work with Red Bull in an attempt to break his record, Mr. Hogan claims to own certain rights to the project and filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit earlier this year in a Californian court. ... Due to
the lawsuit, we have decided to stop the project until this case has been resolved." According to Courthouse News,
Hogan claims he pitched the idea to Red Bull as a "marriage of daredevil, record-breaking 'stuntsmanship' and cutting-edge technology." He assembled a team including balloonist Per Lindstrand, a
Russian company that would develop the spacesuit, two medical professionals and a filmmaker. Red Bull spokesperson Maddy Stephens told AVweb on Tuesday: "It is not a unique idea to beat an
existing world record (especially when it is 50 years old). The challenge is to actually beat it. Otherwise, we do not comment on pending litigation."
An I.T. specialist in Kenya, Gabriel Nderitu, spent six months researching aircraft on the Internet and one year building what he hopes may become a true Kenyan homebuilt flying machine.
42-year-old Nderitu cites a boyhood interest in aviation and says, "So maybe it was a missed career, which I'm trying to re-create." He employed five men to help with welding and assembly. In the end,
Nderitu mounted a Toyota engine to his modular airframe. The strutted wing and ailerons are skinned with aluminum sheet. The engine itself turns up to 4,000 rpm, driving a 74-inch wooden propeller
through a simple reduction belt drive. Nderitu says "a bit of it was a bit of reinventing the wheel ... not really looking and trying to copy." The aircraft is not yet finished and there is no
guarantee Nderitu's craft will ever be licensed, or allowed to fly, or that it is even capable of flight (which seems unlikely). But that may not be the point.
Nderitu hopes to complete the airplane "whether it flies or not." As a longstanding dream, he says he just wants to "get it out of my mind, then I can do something else." Whatever it achieves, the
craft may serve as inspiration. "If a guy says that 'I want to build an aircraft' it seems like he's from the moon, or from somewhere. And if it happens, if it at least lifts off, even if it is three
feet, it shows that you have gone somewhere."
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Landing on a dry lakebed can be challenging but exciting, and 98 general aviation pilots got to have that experience this month, thanks to the first-ever GA fly-in at Edwards Air Force Base. "This
is a uniquely Edwards event. Only Edwards has lakebed runways," said Maj. Gen. David Eichhorn, Air Force Flight Test Center commander, as he welcomed the arrivals on Oct. 1. Most of the pilots lived
in the area, but James Simmons flew in from Connecticut in his Mooney M20, and others arrived from Texas and Michigan. More than 2,000 pilots entered the lottery to win the 100 fly-in slots for the
chance to land on the same kind of runway as aviation icons like Scott Crossfield, Chuck Yeager and the space shuttle crews. With passengers and drive-in visitors, the Air Force hosted about 800
people for the all-day event.
The lakebed has an unusual "potato-chip" surface that is dusty and crunchy to land on, and the wide flat area lacks visual cues to help pilots judge their height above the ground. Runways are
marked with miles of oil. The GA pilots arrived via Runway 20, which is 22,000 feet long by 300 feet wide. About 15 warbirds were also invited. The day began with a pancake breakfast, followed by a
movie about the X-15 program, and a discussion about the Edwards airspace and strategies for GA pilots to avoid unpleasant encounters with military jets. Departures were a little earlier than planned
due to impending thunderstorms. The last GA airplane left by 2:30 p.m. The organizers said they may host another GA fly-in in 2012. For updates, visit FlightTestNation.com.
The America's Challenge gas balloon race launched from Albuquerque last weekend after a tribute to the two pilots lost over the Adriatic Sea last month, and by Monday afternoon all six of the teams had landed safely. The top
three teams were all led by female pilots. Race organizers said, "While we haven't had time to do the research, it's almost certain that this is a first in the annals of competitive distance gas
ballooning." Barbara Fricke and copilot Peter Cuneo flew the farthest, landing on the east shore of the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, on Monday after flying 1,350 miles from their launch point.
Unofficial results place Danielle Francoeur and Linda Ellis in second place, with 1,223 miles, and Cheri White and Mark Sullivan third, with 938 miles. One team, Troy Bradley and Shane Robinson, made
a precautionary landing in Texas, just 266 miles from the start, after someone on the ground with a rifle fired at them several times.
Bradley told Albuquerque news station KOB they were flying just 400 feet above a cornfield near Lubbock when
they heard the first shot. Bradley said his copilot scanned the area with binoculars, and spotted a truck. "He could actually see the gun pointed at us. And then another shot went and he could see the
flash from the gun barrel." Robinson called 911 and police arrived and arrested the men in the truck. Bradley landed the balloon to check for damage. The America's Challenge race has been held every
year since 1995 in conjunction with the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. Richard Abruzzo was scheduled to compete; he was flying in the Gordon Bennett race on Sept. 29 when he and Carol Rymer Davis
disappeared during a thunderstorm.
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A steppe eagle named Mitch that was wounded in Afghanistan in June and rescued by Navy Seals was delivered via Cirrus SR22 to a bird quarantine site in upstate New York last week. "It was an
interesting experience," Cirrus pilot John Williams told AVweb. "It took almost an act of Congress to get this bird back to the U.S." Mitch had been hit after landing on a rifle range, and a
wing was damaged so he couldn't be returned to the wild. The Seals and other soldiers at the site adopted him, but knowing they would soon be re-deployed, they worked for several months to find him a
new home. Williams picked up Mitch at a general aviation airport near Norfolk, Va., where the bird had hitched a last-minute ride to the U.S. via military transport. "The bird arrived in a dog crate
and luckily it fit just perfectly on the back seat of the Cirrus," Williams said. "It was an absolutely stunning, gorgeous bird. Two soldiers had flown over with him to make the handoff, and then had
to go straight back to Afghanistan. I was honored to help out." After spending 30 days in quarantine, Mitch will move one more time, to a permanent home with the Berkshire Bird Paradise Sanctuary.
Navy Seal Craig White helped to care for Mitch in Afghanistan and contacted Pete Dubacher of the Berkshire sanctuary after finding his website online. Red tape nearly derailed the effort, but many
people rallied to the cause, including author Barbara Chepaitis, who had recently finished a book about the sanctuary; New York Sen. Charles Schumer; and volunteers with Pilots 'n Paws. "I found out while we took care of Mitch, he (or she for all we know) is very easy to grow fond of, and I think he will be nothing
short of an awesome resident [in his new home]," White said. "Literally hundreds of hours of everyone's time and energy went into this and I think this is something that we can all feel really good
about." Mitch should arrive at his permanent home in time for Veterans Day.
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The European Parliament is expected to vote today or Thursday on whether to essentially cancel some of the privileges of pilots holding FAA certificates in European Union countries. Proposed
regulatory changes put forth by the European Aviation Safety Agency would also make it more difficult to operate American-registered aircraft in Europe. In a special edition podcast interview with AVweb, Emmanuel Davidson, vice president of AOPA in France, said the proposals put forth by EASA
"represent the greatest threat to general aviation in Europe in the last decade" and virtually all pilot groups and many companies and industry groups are trying to get it derailed. One of the
difficulties with that is the measures are hidden in a larger bill of changes deemed positive by most in GA in Europe and the American issues will have to be separated from them.
Davidson said the most serious impact of the EASA proposal would be to effectively negate the FAA IFR rating that most IFR-rated pilots in Europe fly with. An FAA IFR rating is considerably less
onerous to obtain than a European one because the European requirements are the same as those required for an ATP. Davidson estimates the average private pilot, with a job and family, would take more
than a year to do the ground school and the rating would cost about $30,000.
Piper Aircraft has hired a contractor to renovate a 75,000-square-foot building at its Vero Beach headquarters that will become the PiperJet factory. The news is welcome in Vero Beach, where there
have been persistent rumors that the company was planning to move. It was purchased by the government of Brunei 18 months ago and now has a presence in that country. The recent announcement of a
European sales office further fueled speculation but the announcement of the factory work may quell those fears, even if repeated assurances from Piper brass haven't. "We're committed to Vero Beach
for the long haul," Piper VP Randy Groom told TCPalm.
Design work will begin immediately and construction should be complete next year. Among the major improvements is to air condition the whole building. The newspaper also said Piper has been working
on the aircraft itself and will announce specific improvements at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Atlanta next week.
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Or was it Oregon? With two moving maps, it all looks the same, says Paul Bertorelli in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, in which he explains why the steely-eyed aviator confidence
vanishes when the XM WX Satellite Weather stops working. Were we always such wimps, or is this something new?
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.
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FAA credentials are widely accepted throughout the world, regardless of the requirements of other countries. The European Union is consideringinvalidating U.S. certificates and aircraft
certification standards. Is this a trend, and what should be done about it?
The business aviation world is collectively shining its shoes and pressing its suits for the largest convention dealing specifically with bizav. The National Business Aviation Association Meeting
and Convention will be held at the Georgia World Congress convention center from Oct. 19-21 and AVweb will be there to provide a full package of news, video and audio reports on the big show,
which, despite the economy, is still a big show. This one is shaping up to be a battle of the heavyweights.
Bombardier Aerospace has let it be known that it considers itself the dominant player in the large business jet sector and it will answer the challenge put forth by Gulfstream and its G650, an
ultra-long-range aircraft with a projected top speed of .925 Mach. Bombardier will announce a new aircraft (or an upgrade of an existing one) that is expected to give the G a run for its money.
AVweb is also aware of several new product announcements from other companies and will be offering the most comprehensive coverage of those developments. Our special show editions will run Oct.
19, 20 and 21.
We've already heard from many of the exhibitors at NBAA 2010, but if you're planning to be at the show and have announcments you want us to know about, please send your news to email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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In the next day or two, the European Parliament will vote on whether to effectively eliminate the flight
privileges of pilots holding FAA certificates. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with AOPA France's Emmanuel Davidson on the impact of the rules being proposed.
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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.
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!
Each week, we go through dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of reader-submitted photos and pick the very best to share with you on Thursday mornings. The top photos are featured on
AVweb's home page, and one photo that stands above the others is awarded an AVweb baseball cap as our "Picture of the Week." Want to see your photo on
AVweb.com? Click here to submit it to our weekly contest.
Rainbow photos have been pouring in lately which isn't much of a surprise given that we enjoyed about six weeks of thunderstorm photos before the Rainbow Era. Ron Chambless of Boise, Idaho has the latest contribution to this fun genre, and it's a stunner. Ron was on hand for this year's Burning Man celebration in the Nevada
desert and brought back a photo that's already monopolized our desktop.
A quick note for submitters: If you've got several photos that you feel are "POTW" material, your best bet is to submit them one-a-week! That gives your photos a greater chance of
seeing print on AVweb, and it makes the selection process a little easier on us, too. ;)
A Reminder About Copyrights:
Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to
release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or or send us an e-mail.
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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
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