AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 44a

November 1, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Notice to Airmen ... And Senators back to top 

FAA Investigating Senator Inhofe's Closed Runway Landing

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) says he won't guarantee he'll be more vigilant about checking NOTAMs after he landed on a closed runway occupied by maintenance workers ten days ago in Texas. "People who fly a lot just don't do it," Inhofe told the Tulsa World. "I won't make any commitments." Inhofe added that while "technically" pilots should "probably" check NOTAMs, it would be impractical for him to do so on the many flights he makes to small airports in Oklahoma each year. The FAA has confirmed it is investigating the Oct 21 incident in which Inhofe landed a Cessna 340 on an occupied closed runway at Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport, Texas, He was reportedly carrying three others in the light twin when he made the landing on a runway bearing oversized painted Xs, a large red truck, other vehicles, and construction workers. The workers were using loud equipment at the time and didn't hear the plane's approach, so one person ran to warn them. A supervisor immediately reported the incident to the FAA and told TulsaWorld.com he was "still shaking" when he reached the hangar to confront the pilot. For his part, Inhofe said he didn't see the Xs until late on final and was concerned he might not be able to abort safely. He said he landed "well off to the side" of the workers. There were no injuries. A few days after his unorthodox arrival, Inhofe Saturday notified "an airport official" of his intent and used a taxiway for departure, according to The Washington Post. The senator has since spoken with the FAA and will "just wait and see what happens." That hasn't stopped him from offering reporters some form of explanation.

TulsaWorld.com reports that Inhofe said he was unaware of the runway's closure NOTAM because of "a bad relationship he has with one individual, who the Senator said declined to take his phone calls before the flight and did not tell him about the NOTAM." In the Washington Post's coverage, Inhofe said an airport official "hates me, I don't know why." The FAA's current interest is why the landing happened while the runway was clearly marked with the requisite oversized Xs. It will attempt to determine why Inhofe was apparently not aware of a NOTAM about the closure and investigate the circumstances of the taxiway departure. The airport has four runways but according to AirNav all except the main one (13/31) are in poor condition. In his 50 years as a pilot, Inhofe has experienced at least two other publicized incidents. In 1999, Inhofe suffered an emergency landing when his aircraft lost its propeller, and in 2006 he ground-looped a Vans RV-8 built by his son.

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Uncle Sam Wants You ... To Buy a New Airplane back to top 

Bonus Depreciation Clock Ticking

Anyone thinking of buying a new aircraft has two months to complete the deal to take advantage of a major tax saving. In September, the federal government extended the 50 percent bonus depreciation provision for new aircraft until the end of the year. As Daniel Cheung of Aviation Tax Consultants told AVweb in a podcast interview, since the law, in most cases, applies only to new aircraft delivered by the end of the year, anyone hoping to take advantage should be kicking the tires immediately. However, if the particular aircraft chosen isn't available, the benefit can extend into 2011.

Cheung explained that aircraft that might still be on the production line at the end of the year or unavailable for some other reason can be secured with a signed contract and a 10 percent down payment for delivery in 2011. The bonus depreciation will apply to the 2011 tax year, however. Although only new aircraft qualify for bonus depreciation, Cheung said those taking advantage of the bargains on the used market do have some tools they can use to reduce taxes.

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Signs of the Times back to top 

Canada's Busiest GA Airport Closing

One of Canada's busiest GA airports will be closed within five years to make way for a massive housing development. And while the Sifton family, which owns the 160-acre Buttonville Airport, near downtown Toronto, will make hundreds of millions of dollars on the deal, they've fought for years to maintain the money-losing operation that serves as an important reliever to Pearson International Airport. "We definitely do have mixed emotions on this," owner Derek Sifton told the National Post. The airport has been in the Sifton family for 40 years and, while the family has other interests to keep food on the table, the airport has been their passion. It was not, they claim, their idea to close it. The Greater Toronto Airport Authority cancelled $1.5 million in annual funding for the facility last year and Sifton said that without the grant, the airport can't go on. The closure has prompted a lot of discussion in Canadian aviation circles, particularly about where the various aviation companies, a community college and hundreds of based aircraft will go.

Buttonville is the only GA airport within Toronto that can accept jets and is heavily used by business aircraft because it's relatively close to downtown. Trish Kale, a spokeswoman for the airport authority, told the Post the decision to cut Buttonville's funding was based on declining traffic at Pearson. "Our focus really is Toronto Pearson. It's the only airport that we operate and we decided we needed to look more closely in-house," she said. "We do support air traffic in the entire region, however, we really think it's the government's responsibility to properly oversee and develop that system of airports that could exist." The federal government turned down numerous requests by the Siftons for help, saying it does not subsidize private airports. The development of the site will create a "town within a city" with a mix of residential, commercial and professional space.

Airlines Post Big Earnings, Workers Seek Their Share

Since the mid-2000s airline workers have given up more than $12 billion in contract concessions, according to The New York Times, and now, as a reaction to very strong third-quarter earnings reports, those workers are looking for payback. Sara Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, told the Times, "Executives reaped millions in bonuses paid for with the sacrifices of frontline workers." Now, says Nelson, the "excuses are all dried up" and "payment to workers is long overdue." Speaking for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Robert Roach Jr. said, "It is time carriers recognize it was the employees who saved many airlines" and that management "must recognize that contribution -- not by words, but by deeds." With contract negotiations on the horizon for many carriers, analysts have their eyes on one that could set the stage.

Some analysts expect contract negotiations that will follow the United and Continental mega-merger to set precedent for negotiations at the other airlines. The nation's top carriers showed third-quarter earnings of more than $2.5 billion and charted a trajectory toward profitability for the first time since 2007. The negative figures include estimates of $60 billion in industry-wide losses over the past decade and estimates that the industry's workforce fell from more than 575,000 in 2001 to about 380,000 today.

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Aviation Safety in the News back to top 

More On "Significant Risks" Implementing ADS-B

"Risks" identified by a DOT's Office of Inspector General (IG) report earlier this month "will impact the cost, schedule, and expected benefits of ADS-B" and may feed off of each other until addressed by the FAA. The Inspector General said the greatest risks to successful implementation "are airspace users' reluctance to purchase and install new avionics" and "FAA's ability to define requirements" for the advanced capabilities of that equipment. The FAA has estimated overall costs on the user end could range from $2.5 billion to $6.2 billion overall. And the FAA currently plans to mandate only ADS-B Out by 2020. However, ADS-B Out "essentially replicates existing domestic radar coverage," meaning adopters would bear a cost but see few new benefits. The main benefits of ADS-B rely on in-cockpit ADS-B In. But the IG estimates FAA requirements and equipment costs for that feature "may not be mature for at least two years." According to the IG, so long as that mix of uncertainties remain, "progress with ADS-B will be limited" and delays, cost increases and performance shortfalls "will continue." There are other complications and the FAA has responded.

Aside from the cockpit side of ADS-B, the IG says integrating ADS-B on controllers' displays also presents a significant and yet unmet challenge. And on the foundation level, the IG says the FAA has failed to update its cost-benefit analysis structure to ensure the most cost-effective approach to implementation. The FAA has also not yet assessed "staffing gaps or actions needed" to provide oversight once the ground system is in place and being used to manage air traffic, according to the IG. The report notes that the FAA is making progress refining how ADS-B is put to work with airspace users, and makes recommendations "to help FAA reduce risk" with the program's oversight and implementation. The FAA agreed in full with seven of the nine recommendations and has put forth plans to addressed them and meet with the IG's approval. See the IG's full report here: Click for PDF.

Printer Bomb Suspect Arrested

Authorities in Yemen have arrested a 22-year-old engineering student and her mother who are alleged to have mailed the computer printers containing explosives that put security forces on high alert around the world over the weekend. Yemeni security forces surrounded a house late Saturday after running down the phone number left with the cargo shipping company that handled the parcels. They're now looking for accomplices, who are believed to have Al Qaeda ties. While the alleged bombers might not have employed the best in tradecraft, the bombs they popped in the post were "extremely professional' and capable of bringing down an airplane, say security officials.

The bomb found in the hold of a United Parcel Service plane in East Midlands in England on Friday was said to be so sophisticated that, at first, bomb experts determined that it wasn't a bomb. "Even when it was examined, the sniffer dogs couldn't detect it," a security source told the Guardian. "It was only when they [forensics experts] had a second look at it they realised what it was." The bomb found in England was equipped with a time while another located in Dubai was hooked to a cell phone computer chip. Both were in toner cartridges installed in printers. Authorities say the bombs were intended to bring the aircraft down.

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New Aircraft: The Big and the Small back to top 

Boeing Considers 737 Successor

It could be an engine upgrade, a design overhaul or a completely new aircraft, but Boeing CEO Jim Albaugh has publicly stated his company will decide the future of its most popular airliner, the 737, "within the next several months." Refitting the jet with more efficient engines may be a front-running idea for airlines interested in an upgrade with a more predictable timetable. Buyers' initial response was cool to potential alternatives like Bombardier's 145-passenger CSeries jet earlier this year, but competition may heat up with demand. "We need a more fuel-efficient, cost-effective airplane," Gary Kelly, Chief Executive of Southwest Airlines, told Dow Jones Newswires. "If Boeing doesn't have a solution, we will have to think about that." Boeing has told Kelly it will deliver a decision on the 737 by year-end. It also may have tipped its hand when it comes to the likelihood of some theoretical upgrades like fly-by-wire controls.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer's aerospace blog reported an exchange with 737 chief project engineer John Hamilton. Asked about the possibility of fly-by-wire, Hamilton said they'd considered it for the 737 NG but the NG flies at 99.8 percent dispatch reliability. Fly-by-wire, said Hamilton, adds a lot of weight to the airplane and it doesn't "really buy a whole lot." Boeing currently builds about 31 of its 737s each month and, according to the program's vice president and general manager, the company could raise production to 42 per month by 2013. Back in 2003, Boeing said there were some 4,000 737s in service worldwide, with one departing from an airport every 5.3 seconds.

Rose Pelton Solos Skycatcher

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The owner of the first production Cessna Skycatcher has soloed for the first time and is looking forward to completing her training. Rose Pelton, wife of Cessna CEO Jack Pelton, announced her accomplishment on her Facebook page Friday. "Rose Pelton accomplished my first SOLO this morning! It was perfect! :-)," she wrote. Pelton received congratulations from many of her Facebook friends, including a post from Julie Filucci, who runs Cessna's Pilot Centers. "You've joined the special sisterhood! Congratulations to the first woman student pilot to solo a Skycatcher!" Filucci wrote.

Pelton took delivery of the Skycatcher almost a year ago, but her husband explained at the National Business Aviation Association convention last month that the couple's hectic schedule and that of the instructors kept her from flying regularly. Although the Skycatcher is an LSA, Pelton is going for her private pilot certificate.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: A Near Mid-Air — Blinded by the Sight

On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli devolves to the philosophical in describing nearly swapping paint with a Cherokee on Sunday. Soiling your underwear will do that to you. But it does bring to mind something we've all experienced: Looking without seeing and seeing without comprehending.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Glass Panel Redundancy

Ever wish you could ride along with Aviation Consumer editor Paul Bertorelli and Kitplanes editor Marc Cook on one of their story-finding expeditions and join in the heated discussion of a hot button aviation topic like — oh, say — whether it's acceptable to fly IFR without iron gyros to back up the data from your trusty G3X?

If you insist on getting into the middle of this, don't miss Marc's commentary on why he's comfortable with his glass panel's built-in redundancy.

AVweb Insider Blog: A Wake-Up Call on Airport Security

In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli cheers ExpressJet pilot Michael Roberts for bringing some much-needed scrutiny to airline security procedures — though one voice and a few sound arguments aren't likely to send TSA back to the drawing board.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Aviation Tax Consultants: Clock Is Ticking to Take Advantage of Bonus Depreciation

File Size 6.1 MB / Running Time 6:40

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

There's only two months left to take advantage of bonus depreciation on new aircraft purchases. Daniel Cheung of Aviation Tax Consultants spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles.

Click here to listen. (6.1 MB, 6:40)

Video: iPad vs. Garmin's 696

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

With Foreflight or WingX loaded, the iPad aces the plate reader function, hands down. But how about for all-purpose cockpit navigation? Looks to us like the 696's robust GPS wins that round. But there could be an interesting and less expensive compromise, as this video reveals.

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

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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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Hangar 10 (MKC, Kansas City, Missouri)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" is Hangar 10 at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (KMKC) in Kansas City, Missouri.

AVweb reader Ken Denning put Hangar 10 on our radar, praising their "brand-new, state-of-the-art green facility with excellent customer service." Kudos to the staff, and check back with us next week for another top FBO.

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

15 Years and Now 15 Grand Giveaways ... It's Your Chance to Win 100,000 Air BP Bravo Rewards Points

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Now's your chance to win 100,000 Air BP Bravo Rewards Points — there are more than 45 million reward options available through the Bravo program — 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 Friday, November 5.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

I was climbing out of Salt Lake in the King Air, and Salt Lake Center gave me a number of heading changes.

"King Air 114CW, turn left to heading 095."


"King Air 114CW, turn right, heading 125."

"Center, 4CW. What is the reason for the heading changes? Am I overtaking traffic ahead?"

"4CW, I am trying to up my professionalism — so why don't you up yours?"

This controller was an old friend who recognized my voice, and he pulled a good one on me. It was really funny at the time ... .

Larry Vetterman
Hot Springs, SD

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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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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.