AVwebFlash - Volume 16, Number 49a

December 6, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! NYC from a New Point of View back to top 

RC-Eye View Of New York

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Chances are you've never seen New York from these angles (unless you're Sean Tucker in an invisible plane). A group of technophiles that calls itself Team Black Sheep launched a video-camera-equipped RC aircraft from Brooklyn Bridge Park and buzzed many of the New York's most famous landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty. The image was transmitted to an operator's console and a second video camera recorded the image off that screen. Still, it's pretty good quality and the perspectives gathered would be impossible to get from a full-sized aircraft, notwithstanding what the official response to such a flight would be. While the Ritewing Zephyr casts a much smaller shadow than a manned aircraft, its flight did not go unnoticed by New York's understandably twitchy law enforcement and security organizations.

Team Black Sheep spokesman "Trappy" told the Daily Mail the police and TSA eventually figured out where the aircraft was being controlled from and paid a visit. He said they were more curious than confrontational and, in the video, they appear to ask him to demonstrate the aircraft. "They asked me what I was doing and I told them I'd land [and] explain it to them," Trappy told the newspaper. "After that we got talking and I showed them how it all works, what I'm doing and so on." He said he checked local laws before the flight and he must have flown through the right loopholes because there were no charges laid.

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Sticking It to the Man (Sort Of) back to top 

Passenger Sit-In Delays Flight

Passengers aboard a Moroccan airliner staged a sit-in Saturday that turned what might have been a four-hour inconvenience into a 24-hour ordeal. The 137 passengers on the Jet4You flight from Toulouse to Casablanca bought tickets for a direct flight (about 90 minutes). As they were settling in, the captain announced a couple of detours, first north to Lyon and then back south to Bordeaux, reportedly to pick up pax who were stranded for some reason. The impromptu tour of France would have added at least four hours to the trip and the passengers were having none of that.

Most of the passengers reportedly refused to buckle their seatbelts and soon came to realize that the seatbelts are among the few things that passengers control on an airliner (seatbacks and tray tables come to mind). The captain snapped off the lights, turned off the heat and left his charges to consider their next move. Airport officials said 57 of the pax eventually followed the flight crew to the terminal while the rest sat on the cold dark airliner overnight. They reportedly got the direct flight they demanded at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Spain's ATC Mess Boils Over (Again)

Friday, air traffic controllers in Spain staged a massive "sickout" just three months since they last voted to strike, nearly one year since reports of their sometimes $1 million-plus salaries, and amidst economists' musings that the country may require a financial bailout. Roughly 90 percent of controllers abandoned their posts Friday, resulting in a massive shutdown of airports and airspace, affecting thousands of flights. Three controllers did arrive to Madrid's Barajas airport to aid arrivals there. The controllers have been involved in contract negotiations over work conditions, wages and privileges. The talks intensified early in 2010 when the government proposed restricted overtime. That alone effectively reduced the average salary of Spanish controllers from about $463,000 to $264,000 annually, according to the WashingtonExaminer. The controllers union now says the country's 2,300 controllers are overworked and have already put in their maximum number of hours for 2010. They also timed their strike for increased impact.

To take advantage of national holidays Monday and Wednesday, many Spaniards booked five-day weekends. Spain's air traffic authority estimates that roughly 4 million passengers booked to fly during the holiday period. Controllers in Spain are prohibited by law from striking and they did not provide warning of Friday's sickout, though they have warned about a similar possible action over Christmas. The controllers have not won much public sympathy since January of 2010, when reports said that "Spain's air traffic controllers can earn ten times more than their Prime Minister -- and more than 50 times the average salary." At that time, nearly half of Spain's controllers were paid more than $360,000 per year. Spain enacted "austerity measures" in February to narrow its budget gap, creating speculation on its fiscal stability. Friday, the country's Finance Minister Elena Salgado told the BBC, "Our fiscal adjustment is on track ... We have done all the things that we had to do with our financial sector."

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Future Fuels back to top 

Camelina Bio-Jet Fuel By 2012?

Fuel produced from the camelina plant could be used as a renewable biojet fuel that would reduce jet-fuel greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent, according to researchers -- and ATSM standards for the fuel are expected before 2012. Camelina-based jet fuel has been tested by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Japan Airlines on different types of aircraft and in different engines. The Navy has tested the fuel in an F/A-18 Super Hornet and last month flew an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter on a 50/50 mix of camelina-based and petroleum-based fuels. The U.S. Navy and Air Force have contracted with Sustainable Oils, a camelina biojet fuel provider, for a total of 500,000 gallons to be delivered by early 2011. According to Sustainable Oils, camelina can be planted, harvested and refined with existing equipment and technology that is available today.

The camelina plant can be grown in rotation with wheat crops on marginal land and requires little water or nitrogen to thrive. ASTM, the American Society for Testing and Materials, is developing standards that would create specifications for renewable jet fuel. The fuel's proponents expect those standards to be fully approved by 2012. The military will continue tests of the 50/50 biofuel mix and intends to put it to use in ships and aircraft before 2013.

Biofuel To Power Lufthansa Commuter Flights

Lufthansa will become the first airline to use biofuel on revenue flights, with a six-month trial that begins in April of 2011. The airline will use a 50-50 blend of Jet A and biodiesel on domestic routes during the trial period. The trial is being partly funded by the German government in a study of the long-term effects of biofuel use in commercial service. The same A321 will use the fuel blend as it plies the well-traveled Frankfurt-Hamburg route.

The jet will use fuel from Neste Oil, which is becoming a major player in the biofuel industry. With the addition of a plant in Singapore to make fuel from renewable palm oil, the company's annual production is expected to reach 600 million gallons next year. The aviation fuel is said to be a drop-in replacement for Jet A. But while Neste has the chemistry down, the economics remain a challenge. The biofuel is equivalent in cost to Jet A produced from oil at $140 a barrel, which it flirted with briefly in 2007. Crude is currently trading at about $90 a barrel.

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Fuel? Who Needs Fuel? back to top 

Sonex Flies Electric Airplane

More than three years after its 2007 unveiling (video), Sonex Aircraft's electric-powered Waiex took its first flight (video) Friday, lifting out of ground effect before settling back down on the runway at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis. Sonex says the intentionally short hop was intended to analyze "one of the most advanced electric flight packages ever conceived." If true, that may help Sonex catch Chinese manufacturer Yuneec, which achieved first flight (video) of its two-seat electric high-wing in June 2009, and Randall Fishman, who's single-seat Electraflyer-C flew at length (video) for the crowd at AirVenture Oshkosh in 2008. Back in 2007, Sonex's John Monnet said the aircraft would fly for one hour at low-speed cruise or for about 15 minutes in all-out high-performance aerobatic operation. Evolution may ultimately deliver different endurance figures.

Sonex's aircraft is currently powered by a 54kw brushless DC electric motor. The motor is managed by a proprietary motor controller and fed by a 14.5kw-hour lithium polymer battery group, which is managed by a separate system. For now, flight testing will be limited to deliberate measured steps as the project continues to develop. And progressive testing is expected to continue. The team is already developing its next-generation motor and motor controller designs.

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News Briefs back to top 

Qantas Keeps Legal Options Open Against Rolls-Royce

Qantas Thursday secured its option to pursue legal action against Rolls-Royce if the two companies fail to reach a settlement over losses suffered when a Trent 900 engine experienced uncontained failure on a Qantas A380. The two companies are engaged in discussions covering a range of issues related to the incident and Qantas' "statement of claim" opens the possibility to sue. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has found that a specific manufacturing defect was to blame. According to the ATSB, a misaligned boring on an oil pipe can lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage, oil fires, and explosive engine failure. Rolls-Royce has instituted an inspection, maintenance and removal plan to assure the safe operations of the Trent 900s still in service. The failure of the engine on Nov. 4, aboard the Qantas airliner, caused substantial damage to the aircraft and led to a disruption of Qantas' operations. One report suggests Rolls-Royce knew enough that the event could have been avoided.

Richard Woodward, vice-president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, said of the damage, "The amount of failures is unprecedented." Rolls-Royce was reportedly aware of problems with oil leaks in its Trent 900 engines and made design changes to models shipped after the delivery of those fitted to the Qantas A380s. The accident aircraft suffered serious damage to a flight control drive motor, wiring was severed, damage was inflicted on a forward spar and a large fuel pipe was ripped open. Pieces of the engine were thrown toward the fuselage. Qantas temporarily grounded its fleet of six A380s following the Nov. 4 event.

Flight Event Targets Girls

Renton Airport in Washington State is claiming the title of Most Female Pilot-Friendly Airport Worldwide after 170 girls and women got introductory flights on Sunday. A total of 10 pilots flying seven aircraft, including one helicopter, flew the back-to-back hops at the airport, which is just south of Seattle. Records are kept for such events and the day in Renton beat Kpong Field Airport in Ghana for the title. The Ghanians managed 97 discovery flights at an earlier event.

The event was organized by Delta Airlines A330 pilot Karlene Pettit, who learned to fly at Renton Airport. The Boeing Employee Flying Association also hopped on board and there were also female air traffic controllers on hand to answer questions. The day was sponsored in part by Centennial of Women Pilots, which is encouraging pilots to introduce girls and women to aviation to help mark the 100th year of female licensed pilots.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Brainteasers Quiz #154: What the World Needs Now ...


... is more pilots. And some pilots need to become professional flyers, even if the airlines keep merging into one. So, if you're ready to fly for hire — or for food — ace this commercial pilot quiz.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

AVweb Insider Blog: Airplanes as Sacred Cows

That's what the F-35 has been, but it may not stay that way. The Pentagon will certainly take some cuts, and the F-35 is a $382 billion target of opportunity. But it's also something else: Very likely the last major manned fighter we'll see for a while — and maybe forever. Paul Bertorelli has more in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Rod Hightower's EAA (Part 3 of 3)

File Size 9.3 MB / Running Time 10:10

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

In our third installment of an interview with EAA President Rod Hightower, we wanted to know what EAA is doing to ensure a steady stream of new pilots. As Hightower told AVweb's Russ Niles, new pilots come from the grass roots of aviation, including his own family.

Click here to listen. (9.3 MB, 10:10)

Video: AVweb Flies the Kitfox LSA

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

Everyone complains that light sport aircraft are too expensive, but Kitfox is doing something about it. AVweb recently went to Homedale, Idaho to try out Kitfox's new moderately priced LSA. Here's a full video report.

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

Are You Using Mogas in Your Airplane?

If so, AVweb and Aviation Consumer would like to talk to you about your experiences using unleaded mogas. Also, if you're an FBO and you're already selling mogas or you're thinking about it, we would like to hear from you.

Contact us at avconsumer@comcast.net.

(The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.)

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.

Bonus Depreciation Stories and Resources on AVweb.com
Fantastic Pricing and Tax Incentives make 2010 an ideal time to buy or upgrade an aircraft. We've compiled special offers on new or used planes, avionics, engines and more on the resource page. The pricing, rebates or incentives are available to everyone. Consult your tax advisor regarding the potential bonus depreciation benefits, and check our resources page for stories, podcasts, and videos related to bonus depreciation.
Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Eagles of America, Inc. (KMGR, Moultrie, Georgia)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Eagles of America at Moutltrie Municipal Airport (KMGR) in Moultrie, Georgia.

AVweb reader Larry King thought "Alan Mathis and his people deserve this recognition," and after reading Larry's account of his trip, we agree:

Upon my arrival at Moultrie on November 27, I was greeted by name by the lineman with an offer to refuel and place my plane in their hangar for my overnight stay. They had my rental car waiting on the tarmac, and when they felt they had delayed my departure the next morning, they insisted on giving me three quarts of Aeroshell Oil for any inconvenience. Even though I was flying a Cessna 170, I received Citation service.

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 

The Final Grand Giveaway Celebrating AVweb's 15-Year Anniversary: Win a Garmin Aera 510 Handheld GPS

CLICK HERE to Register for All 15 Drawings

Where has the time gone? Our 15th anniversary year is almost over, and that means we've come to our 15th (and final) "Grand Giveaway." If you haven't already, register for one final chance to win — as we give away a Garmin aera 510 handheld GPS. All you have to do is click here to enter your name and e-mail address. (You must be a registered AVweb user; if you've entered any of our previous 15 Grand Giveaways drawings, you'll automatically be considered for the aera — no need to enter again.)

Remember: We won't rent or sell your name, ever. Tell your friends, and invite them to sign up for AVweb so they can enter this final 15 Grand Giveaways drawing. (We won't spam them, either — but do we hope they will sign up for our newsletters.)

Deadline for entries is 11:59pm Zulu time Sunday, December 19.

Click here to read the contest rules and enter.

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions | Past Winners

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.


As we continue to catch up with recent submissions, we come to the period referred to as "The Virginian Week." No, that wasn't the week we watched James Drury on Starz all week — though we did that, too: It's the week every pilot in Virginia seems to have uploaded a photo to our submission box. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but — well, see for yourself as we queue up this week's top photos.

medium | large

copyright © Garrett Nievin
Used with permission


To kick things off, Garrett Nievin of Ashburn, Virginia is "taking the Vaelie Monocoupe out to fly at the Golden Age Air Musuem in Bethel, Pennsylvania."

medium | large

Used with permission of Bret Magee

Guess Who

Judging by the photos he submitted, Bret Magee of Newport News, Virginia had a blast at the Hickory Aviation Museum. (We've got another of Bret's photos up in the slideshow on AVweb's home page right now.)

medium | large

copyright © Paul T. Gernhardt
Used with permission

Night of the Arrival

"Last week, my favorite jet team; this week, my favorite prop team," writes Paul T. Gernhardt of Ashburn, Virginia. Even with such a charmed life, Paul finds time to snap a few photos and share them with us, including this incredible shot of one of the AeroShell Aerobatic Team's T-6s the night they arrived at Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport (KTVR).

medium | large

Used with permission of Russell Danson

Baron on Approach

Russell Danson of Windsor, Connecticut (a bit north of Virginia) treats us to an autumn display snapped during the last show at Rhinebeck 2010.

medium | large

copyright © Dennis Olcott
Used with permission

"No Wonder My Car Insurance Is So Expensive ..."

Dennis Olcott of Vero Beach, Florida didn't say which one's the gecko and which one's the CEO — but we still got a kick out of his sunny, fun-filled shot. In fact, we think we'll hang onto it, since summer is a long way off.

You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. Don't miss 'em!

Click here to submit your own photos to "POTW."

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.

Short Final

I got a chuckle out of this one Monday. Maybe the humor was from voice inflection.

Unknown Pilot #1 (On Guard):
"Hey, Greg — are you up?"

Unknown Pilot #2 (On Guard) [presumably "Greg"]:
"You're on guard!"

Pilot #1:

Pilot #2:

Pilot #1:
"Well, so are you!"

George Boras
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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.