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AOPA and Jeppesen, two of the largest players in the online flight planning business say a patent obtained by FlightPrep doesn't affect their products and they are not willing to discuss it. In a
statement released Wednesday, AOPA says it will not meet with
FlightPrep to discuss the patent and it will be business as usual for the product it provides. In fact, there's a new version coming out in a few weeks. FlightPrep didn't directly comment on AOPA and
Jepp's reaction and had this to say. "FlightPrep has been in contact with Tom Haines and AOPA regarding our patent and online planner technology since 2007. FlightPrep is a small Oregon based business
that is a proud AOPA advertiser, AOPA Summit participant, and our staff are proud members of AOPA as well as AOPA political action supporters" As we reported in Wednesday's AVwebBiz, RunwayFinder, a popular online flight planning site, shut down in the face of a lawsuit from
RunwayFinder founder Dave Parsons and FlightPrep are at odds over the summary of events leading to the current impasse and Parsons told AVweb the site will remain closed as he copes with the
threat of a multi-million dollar lawsuit launched by FlightPrep.
RunwayFinder, a popular online flight planning website, announced Tuesday that it was shutting down in the face of a lawsuit from
FlightPrep, an Oregon company that successfully patented online flight planning almost a year ago. RunwayFinder developer Dave Parsons said he had hoped to reach a licensing deal with FlightPrep which
included the dropping of the lawsuit, which claims damages of $3.2 million per month from RunwayFinder. FlightPrep did offer RunwayFinder a temporary free license while it negotiated terms of a permanent one but Parsons said the lawsuit was a deal breaker. He said FlightPrep arrived at the $3.2
million figure by multiplying the number of unique visits his site receives each month (22,500) by the $149 annual subscription cost for FlightPrep's service. FlightPrep calls the resulting $3.2
million "lost revenue." Parsons said FlightPrep wouldn't drop the suit so he's closing the site, which is used by other sites as a source for information for their own products. In a podcast interview with AVweb, FlightPrep Vice President and General Manager Ross Neher said it's not his company's goal to shut down
sites or otherwise disrupt aviation services but RunwayFinder ignored written notification of the patent enforcement. He said taking Parsons to court was a last resort and the only option open to his
company under the circumstances.
As AVwebreported almost a year ago, the company got the patent
after an eight-year application process with the Patent Office. At one point the patent had apparently been rejected but it was finally awarded last Dec. 29. Neher said that while online flight
planners are common these days, his company's was the only one in 2001 when the patent application was filed and that, apparently, is what counts. In the podcast interview, Neher suggested the revenue
derived from online flight planners would be a factor in assessing licensing fees and that some free services could remain that way. It has already reached a deal with SkyVector, which is paying a royalty. Neher said many other organizations offering online flight planning have been contacted regarding licensing agreements but declined to discuss
the details of those negotiations.
Looking for the Perfect Gift for Your Favorite Pilot? (Maybe You?)
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happy holiday; this is the gift that will keep on giving on every future flight. For more information about all Lightspeed Aviation headsets,
Fifty years ago, Dec. 16, the midair collision over New York City of a United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation became the worst aviation disaster to date; it's since brought regulatory
change and today it will be recognized, again. The crash killed 128 people on both aircraft and six more on the ground. At least 10 buildings were destroyed in Brooklyn where the DC-8 fell. The
Constellation crashed down on the grounds of a military base on Staten Island. The accident has been cited as launching the first major investigation in which flight recorders were used to provide
extensive insight into operations prior to the crash. It led to speed limits for aircraft operating under certain conditions and reporting rules for malfunctions of navigation or communication
equipment during IFR operations. All aboard both aircraft were lost and unidentified remains were buried at Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. The cemetery will today unveil an 8-foot granite monument in
recognition of the victims.
The 1960 accident occurred in IFR conditions after controllers instructed the United DC-8 to enter a holding pattern near New York. The airliner was flying with one bad navigation radio at the
time, but it is not known if that factored into the crash. Pilots testified that a beacon relevant to the holding pattern was inoperable; others said it was working. Whatever the case, the United jet
overshot its hold and ultimately impacted the TWA Constellation, which was in a holding pattern nearby. Controllers might have seen the impending crash with better radar coverage, and that fact is
said to have helped facilitate the addition of radar equipment at busy airports following the crash.
Of all the possible careers out there, being a commercial pilot is one of the 50 best choices, according to a recent report by U.S. News. The list was based on data from the U.S. Labor Department,
showing which occupations are likely to add jobs at an above-average rate over the next decade, while also providing an above-average median income. The editors said they also talked with industry
experts, gathering anecdotal evidence about employment prospects and job satisfaction. Median income for commercial pilots in 2009 was $65,840, and employment is expected to grow 19 percent through
2018, adding 7,300 new jobs, according to the report.
Many of those new jobs may go to pilots who have been furloughed due to the current economic downturn or because of mergers and cutbacks in the industry. But according to U.S. News, as the economy
recovers and a wave of pilots reaches retirement age, the hiring outlook should improve. While the story is upbeat, the multitude of comments -- up to 92 at last count -- is more of a mixed bag. Many
commenters note the high cost of training compared to the low pay of entry-level pilot jobs, the long hours and frequent nights away from home, and the uncertainty of any retirement income. Several
say they've enjoyed their career but wouldn't recommend it to others unless they have a deep-seated passion for aviation. You can read the story and comments here.
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Boeing's Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system took a ride aboard NASA's 747 shuttle carrier on Monday, for a 50-minute test flight, marking the first time the 747 has carried any aircraft other
than the space shuttle. The flight was a shakedown prior to moving the drone from St. Louis, Mo., to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where it will undergo further ground and taxi tests before first
flight early next year. The big UAS, measuring 36 feet long with a 50-foot wingspan, was introduced in May by Boeing Phantom Works after two years of development. The vehicle is designed to test a
variety of advanced technologies for surveillance and reconnaissance as well as weaponry. It is also capable of autonomous aerial refueling.
During low-speed taxi tests last month at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, Phantom Ray communicated with the ground control station, received orders and made its way down the runway
multiple times, Boeing said. When the UAS was unveiled in May, program manager Craig Brown said it represented a new approach for the company. "We're really excited about this because Phantom Works is
back as a rapid prototyping house, operation and organization," he said. "This is the first of what I expect to be many exciting prototypes, and they're all with exciting technology."
Oil prices reached a record $147.27 per barrel in 2008 and that helped cripple some airlines; now, the U.S. is considering new rules that would curb speculative trading on commodities and Delta
Airlines is among those urging strict limits. General counsel to Delta, Richard B. Hirst, wrote the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) saying, "The speculative bubble in oil prices has
concrete detrimental consequences for the real economy," according to Bloomberg news. Companies joining Delta in the push for limits on commodities trading believe that the current trading structure creates a system that benefits financial speculators to the
detriment of consumers. CFTC appears set to altogether miss, without repercussion, its first action deadline set earlier by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.
Financial industry interests have recommended delaying implementation of limits on speculative commodities trading. The CFTC commissioners said they will consider setting limits on commodities
including oil, and said Wednesday that they would miss a mid-January deadline. Currently, it seems the organization may phase in limits after a comment period. The intent of the new rules is to limit
the influence that one firm can exert on the market and control extreme price fluctuations that aren't driven by demand of actual physical commodities.
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It's an ambitious plan, but a group of pilots based at Enstone Flying Club in the U.K. hopes to build a dozen 90-percent-scale Spitfire replicas by the end of next year. The result will be a
"living history" squadron of aircraft that will perform at events around the U.K. The Supermarine MK26B Spitfires will be built from all-aluminum kits by teams of up to 12 builders and pilots.
Fractional ownership options from one-twelfth to full ownership of each airplane will be available. Builders also can opt to be trained in formation flying skills. The group hopes to have the squadron
ready in time to perform at the Farnborough Air Show in 2012.
"This squadron, which I'm calling 'City of Oxford' will include ground crews, military vehicle enthusiasts and living-history players, making this a truly unique club, with a regular calendar of
events as a focal point for every member," wrote Paul Fowler, owner of the Enstone Flying Club, at his website. "With 12 Spitfires available and up to 12 builder/members per airframe, there will be no shortage of opportunities for builders to get involved." The kits are designed for
novice builders, he said, and plenty of support will be available from local experts and agencies. A form at Fowler's website is available for interested participants to sign up for more
In honor of aircraft designer Burt Rutan's retirement, which he announced last month (PDF), EAA says it is planning a tribute to his work at AirVenture next summer. "Burt is certainly an aviation icon and a pioneering visionary in the homebuilt movement," said Tom
Poberezny, EAA chairman. Rutan has been attending the annual event since 1971, often introducing new designs there. "Burt has been such an integral part of our convention," said Poberezny. "His
designs are a staple on the flightline at Oshkosh." Rutan now serves as chief technical officer of Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif., but said he will retire effective April 2011 and assume the
title of Scaled's founder and chairman emeritus. AirVenture 2011 will feature a "Tribute to Burt Rutan Day" on Thursday, July 28, with flying displays, a program at Theater in the Woods, and various
Rutan is best known for his unique, innovative airplane designs, such as the VariViggen (his first), VariEze, and Long-EZ (his self-described "best" homebuilt); one-off creations like the
Boomerang, Voyager, GlobalFlyer, Grizzly, and SpaceShipOne; and, most recently, SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo. EAA is working with builder, owner, and pilot groups to encourage a major gathering of
Burt Rutan-designed aircraft at AirVenture 2011, and will also create a special parking area for them on the flightline. (Individuals with Rutan-designed aircraft who would like to participate in the
tribute are asked to contact EAA via e-mail.) During AirVenture, EAA's Museum will highlight several significant Rutan airplanes in its
collection, including the VariViggen and VariEze prototypes, Amsoil racer, Grizzly, Voyager fuselage mock-up, Solitaire, Williams V Jet II, and the SpaceShipOne feathering mock-up. Also, the 25th
anniversary of the round-the-world flight of Rutan's Voyager aircraft will be noted. AirVenture 2011 will be held July 25 to 31 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis.
Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Safe Pilot? Challenge yourself with the Air Safety Institute Safety Quiz, underwritten by the AOPA Insurance Agency.
Reuters says Dassault Falcon is eyeing a major manufacturing presence
in China as a way of tying up 40 percent of the said-to-be burgeoning market for business jets in the country. Reuters says the New Jersey company is negotiating with the Chinese government-owned AVIC
to either set up shop in China or work on the development of an indigenous Chinese business jet. "There should be a decision in 2011/12. We will then know, yes or no, whether we will collaborate more
seriously with them," Reuters says Dassault Falcon Chief Executive Jean Rosanvallon told La Tribune in an article to be published on Wednesday. Reuters says Dassault believes that in the long term
China will be home to 3,000 business aircraft and he hopes to sell $500 million worth there in 2011.
The company also announced the opening of a sales office in Beijing on Tuesday. The Global Times
Rosanvallon spoke at a news conference in Beijing at which the Times said he hoped to sell 10 aircraft a year there.
The tax bill now working its way through Congress will help to boost manufacturing and restore lost jobs in the general aviation industry, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association said this
week. The plan will also provide tax benefits to companies that invest in business aircraft, according to the National Business Aviation Association. Businesses will be allowed to expense 100 percent
of their investments in new capital assets through Dec. 31, 2011, retroactive from Sept. 8, 2010, plus claim a "bonus" depreciation allowance of 50 percent during 2012, said NBAA. In addition, the
bill extends the research and development tax credit for two more years, says GAMA. "These proposals are extremely well-targeted to create jobs, stimulate innovation, and get production lines moving
again at manufacturing plants," according to GAMA CEO Pete Bunce.
Investments eligible for the depreciation credit include aircraft, engines, avionics and other upgrades. "We believe the expensing provision will encourage sales of airplanes, engines, and avionics
in a market that continues to experience a very slow recovery from the recession," said Bunce. "It will also benefit companies and employees of maintenance and completion centers that overhaul
aircraft and install equipment." The R&D credits also have been "very effective" at encouraging technical advancements and sustaining economic growth in the industry, according to GAMA. The tax
plan won a positive vote from a Senate committee on Monday, and is expected to pass in both the House and Senate by the end of this week.
Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?
Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.
Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."
Finance Your Year-End Aircraft Purchase!
With new tax incentives to aid business buyers, the ability to fix historically low rates up to 20 years, and great deals on new and used aircraft, 2010 is a great time to buy!
There's not much point in worrying about the Chinese hollowing out U.S. aerospace manufacturing, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog. They've got a lot of money to invest, and a
lot of it is coming to the U.S. For Mobile, that could translate to actual jobs; for the industry at large, it could be a fast track diesel development that might not have happened otherwise.
JA Air Center When It Comes to Garmin Avionics, Go with a Name You Can Trust!
Since 1965, pilots have trusted the avionics experts at JA Air Center. Whether you're looking for ship-in repair, custom installation, or a mail order purchase, no one knows avionics better
than JA Air Center.
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.
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.
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.
Peter Drucker Says, "The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Executive Air Transport at Muskegon County Airport (KMKG) in Muskegon,
AVweb reader Alex Anderegg recommended the FBO for its "excellent service (baggage help, fuel, courtesy car, catering, charter services, etc.)" and told us the folks at EA Transport
"deserve to be 'FBO of the Week' because of their deep commitment to great customer service and pilot training."
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.
*** THIS WEEK'S WINNERS ***
Attention, AVwebbers! If you're planning on sending us pics of your plane decked out in holiday lights, giving Santa a ride, ferrying fresh-cut pines, or sporting a menorah,
try to get them in to us by Monday, December 20. We'd love to run them in next Thursday's installment of "POTW" before we head over the river and through the woods to grandma's hangar.
DC-3 Back on Scheduled Service in the Kingdom of Tonga
That's right, kids not every DC-3 is an air show attraction; some are still working for a living. John King of Auckland, New Zealand was
pleased to be able to experience this view of the South Pacific without any digital manipulations just the skilled work of "three good pilots (Keith Mitchell and Alani Fonua in the DC-3, Craig
Emeny in the camera [plane] BN2A Islander)."
We don't think you can start any earlier than pro pilot Joe Gemma's two-month-old Caitlin! Joe hails from Duncan, South Carolina and
tells us that it "just so happens that [Caitlin's first] flight was operated by the airline I fly for and in the plane I fly."
(And people still wonder why we like our readers so much?)
To sign off, here's one from the aviation archives of Richmond, Virginia reader Arthur B. Wiggins. Arthur tells us it's a training flight from 1917
but offered no back story beyond that. Maybe it's where Superman and Dr. Strangelove got their inspiration?
You'll find more reader-submitted photos in the slideshow on AVweb's home page. And it's a good batch, so don't miss 'em!
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
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors 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.