AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 16, Number 52a

December 27, 2010

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
EDM 830 from JP Instruments || Technology That Works
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AVflash! Seattle Avionics Sidesteps Patent back to top 

"Patent-Free" Flight Planner Offered

Seattle Avionics says its collaboration with DTC DUAT offers pilots a "patent-free" flight planning service that avoids all the issues raised by the patent awarded FlightPrep for online flight planning. "While it downloads weather and TFR information from the Internet, it is not an Internet-based flight planner, and is not subject to the recently publicized FlightPrep patent," Seattle Avionics said in a Dec. 24 news release. DTC DUAT is using a basic version of Seattle Avionics' Voyager flight planner for the free service it's offering. Seattle Avionics CEO Steve Podradchik said the basic function of Voyager precludes any infringement of FlightPrep's patent. "As we don't make an Internet-based flight planner, we're clearly not subject to it and have not received any letter from FlightPrep," said Podradchik. "But with so many pilots concerned, we wanted to offer all pilots a free flight planning alternative that is clear of all patent issues."

Meanwhile, the first formal challenge to FlightPrep's patent is scheduled to get under way by Tuesday when RunwayFinder must respond to a lawsuit brought against it by FlightPrep alleging patent infringement and claiming unspecified damages. RunwayFinder owner Dave Parsons initially closed his service in hopes that FlightPrep would drop the suit. When the suit was not withdrawn, Parsons decided to fight the patent and says his goal is to invalidate it. He's forming a trust fund to accept legal defense donations and is in the process of hiring a patent attorney. Backlash to the FlightPrep's enforcement of its patent continues, and at least two web sites, here and here, have been set up to protest FlighPrep's actions.

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Recession? What Recession? back to top 

Airline Profits Soared In 2010

Through the first nine months of 2010, U.S. airlines posted operating profits that eclipse those from any single full year since at least 1999, according to the Department of Transportation -- and that correlates with a rise in ticket costs and fees. Airfares are up an average 13 percent over 2009, according to the Bureau of Transportation -- not including new fees for baggage and services. The impressive profits (more than $7 billion over nine months) are even more so when compared to 2008, when the industry lost more than $5 billion. Major changes in the industry have included the cost of oil, which hit its high-water mark of $147.27 per barrel in July of 2008, fell below $40 by December that year and currently runs closer to $90 per barrel. Fuel prices aside, the airlines reacted to the financial downturn by slashing flights, renegotiating employment contracts with workers, packing aircraft to capacity, and adding fees for baggage, food and other services. As a result, airfares compare favorably with those from a decade ago, while fees have proven to be a powerful financial contributor for the airlines. There are other factors in play.

Recently, United acquired Continental and Delta joined with Northwest. Additional financial results from that kind of industry consolidation, which, in the case of United/Continental, has created the largest airline in the world, may still be coming. And corrections may be coming, too. Workers, who accepted contract concessions during hard times, may begin to do more than talk about seeking payback. Interviewed by CNN, Harlan Platt, a professor of finance at Northeastern University, said, "Even though everybody probably wants to complain that air fares are up, they're still below where they were in 2000." Fees, including reservation change fees, collected more than $2 billion for the industry in the third quarter of 2010. Managing supply has also played a role, according to Platt. "They're maintaining a limited supply of seats that has enabled them to continue to charge higher fares."

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Security "Smokescreen" back to top 

Pilot Tapes Airport Security, Feds Take His Gun

Officials earlier this month asked a Federal Flight Deck Officer to surrender his sidearm after the airline pilot posted videos to YouTube describing airport security practices, in which he declared, "As you can see [...] it's only smoke and mirrors." In the videos, the pilot compares the security measures faced by passengers and flight crew with those faced by airline ground crews. He details that passengers and flight crews must remove their shoes and pass through metal detectors, and may be subjected to further screening. Meanwhile, says the pilot, ground crews swipe a magnetized card to access restricted areas that could in turn give them intimate access to baggage, aircraft, or both. The pilot also shows tools available to all cockpit crews after passing through airport metal detectors and states, "I would say a two-foot crash axe looks a lot more formidable than a box cutter." The footage was posted Nov. 28, in a series of six videos, and has since been removed from YouTube at the request of the pilot's employer, which has not taken any other action against the pilot. The TSA has offered a significantly different reaction.

On Dec. 6, the pilot received a letter from the TSA stating that "an administrative review into your deputation status as a Federal Flight Deck Officer has been initiated," according to ABC news. The letter contends the pilot "may have violated regulations concerning disclosure of sensitive security information." The government sent six people to the pilot's house to retrieve his firearm, according to ABC. The pilot has retained a lawyer and may face civil penalties from the TSA. According to the pilot, "As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here."

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Speaking of Safety back to top 

Cirrus Earns FAA Approval For Latest Safety Features

Cirrus' Perspective Electronic Stability and Protection (Perspective ESP) and Hypoxia Recognition and Automatic Descent Mode systems have earned FAA approval, bringing unique upgrades to Cirrus pilots flying with the Perspective package. The ESP system operates when a pilot is hand-flying the aircraft and helps correct excessive pitch, roll or airspeed situations. It activates automatically, even when the autopilot is turned off, whenever the aircraft exceeds preset parameters. Cirrus likens it to traction and stability control for aircraft and says the system is unobtrusive and augments the aircraft's natural flight stability. The hypoxia recognition system functions as part of Perspective ESP and engages when a pilot is flying at oxygen-required altitudes and remains unresponsive for a period of time. The system engages an automated altitude step-down recovery if the pilot is incapacitated due to lack of oxygen. Pilots can override the systems or simply shut them off. Perspective ESP does offer other features.

Users have underspeed protection and coupled go-around capability (which leaves the autopilot on during go arounds to preserve a stall margin). The system works via Garmin hardware and software. See Cirrus' Perspective ESP brochure here. Perspective ESP was introduced at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010. Now Cirrus says, "Both Perspective ESP and Hypoxia Recognition are available immediately and only on Cirrus Aircraft equipped with the Cirrus Perspective by Garmin avionics suite and the all-digital Garmin GFC 700 autopilot." Cirrus owners that have purchased a new Cirrus since Aug. 1, 2010, can contact Cirrus for software installation of these newest safety upgrades.

Prop Strike? Contamination? Lightning Strike? When the Unexpected 
Requires Engine Teardown, Rely on TCM Factory Services
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Specifics on Sleep back to top 

FAA To Clarify Pro-Pilot Rest Rules

The FAA Thursday released a "notice of proposed interpretation" to clarify rules pertaining to flight crew members who exceed permissible duty limits due to system delays, and the agency is seeking comments. Specific to the interpretation, the FAA was asked to provide legal interpretation for a scenario in which a flight officer is subjected to delays that the flight officer knows would extend his duty beyond a 14-hour duty day. The FAA has previously offered two interpretations and has now determined that "it is illogical that the nearly-identical regulatory language in sections 121.471(g) and 135.263(d) is interpreted in two different ways." The FAA's proposed interpretation would supersede any previous interpretations and prohibit flight crew from accepting a flight if he is aware at the time of departure that he has not had required rest. The FAA is accepting comments, but the comment window is small.

The FAA's specific wording states that, "If a flight crewmember was to be aware at the time of departure on the last leg of the flight that he or she has not had the required rest, 14 CFR 135.267(d) would prohibit him or her from departing on the last leg of the flight." The agency is accepting public comments before Jan. 24, 2011, and may alter the interpretation based on those comments. See the text of the proposed interpretation for more details.

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Keep 'Em Flying back to top 

787 Back In The Air

Boeing resumed flight tests of the 787 Dreamliner just before Christmas, saying it had installed a new, interim version of revised software governing its power distribution system on the first of six test aircraft. A short circuit and fire caused by a foreign object inside a power distribution box Nov. 6 resulted in a six-week suspension of the flight test program. An FAA certification crew was at the controls. It wasn't the fire itself that caused all the concern, however. The fire resulted in cascading system failures that led to the crew making an emergency landing in Laredo, Texas, without cockpit displays, electronic flight controls and autothrottles. Meanwhile, a 787 customer is worrying out loud about the airliner's suspected weight problem.

The addition of reinforcement to the aircraft's structure plus the usual weight gain that all developmental aircraft seem to suffer could affect route plans being devised by Air New Zealand for the 787. "Some routes are right on the edge of the range envelop, that if the aircraft comes on significantly heavy that will cause some issues for us," CEO Rob Fyfe told The Wall Street Journal last week. Fyfe wouldn't specify the routes but said the airline is considering serving South America, China and other far-flung destinations with the Dreamliner.

Prop Tested For F-82 Restorations

The ambitious restoration to flight status of two F-82 Twin Mustangs is getting closer to reality with the recent announcement that German propeller manufacturer MT has successfully flight-tested scratch-built replacement props for the extraordinarily rare warbirds. What's more, the props are made from composites and, based on the tests done on a P-51, should give the already-peppy Twin Mustang even better climb and cruise performance. The prop project was spearheaded by Flight Resource, the U.S. distributor for MT props. "The development of this propeller for such a rare aircraft has been one of the most fun projects we have undertaken," said Flight Resource spokesman John Neilson. "With this successful design, MT-Propeller has proven they are now able to supply new generation propellers for V-12 powered vintage aircraft."

The aircraft under restoration are both powered by Allison engines. One is an original prototype being restored by Tom Reilly of Douglas, Ga. The other is an E model that is being restored by C&P Aviation of Anoka, Minn.

JA Air Center || When It Comes to Avionics, Go with a Name You Can Trust
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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Unexpected Pleasures — Cub Landings

What's better — pottering around the pattern yourself in a J-3 Cub, or watching your student nail his landings on a turn runway? On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli suggests it's a toss-up.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Remembering Stephen Baltz

He was just an 11-year-old kid from Chicago on his way alone to New York. But when a TWA Connie and a United DC-8 collided over Staten Island, he became known as the "boy who fell from the sky." Fifty years later, commenting on the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli associates Baltz's life with a tragedy that reshaped the air traffic system.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: IFR Magazine Shows You How to Use a GPS for NDB-Only Approaches

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

You can't legally fly an NDB approach in the clouds using a GPS unless it says "or GPS" in the title. But there's nothing that says you can't practice VFR what it's like to fly an approach with a bearing pointer and no moving maps. Come along with IFR magazine editor-in-chief Jeff Van West and see how to make your glass cockpit (or portable GPS) go retro to fly an old-school NDB approach just for the fun and proficiency of it.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Video: Eclipse Jet Flight Demo

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

As Eclipse Aerospace tries to put the pieces together following the bankruptcy of the original company in 2008, it's busily modifying the 259 existing airframes. AVweb recently flew one of the upgraded models with owner David Green. The airplane is fast, comfortable, and a blast to fly.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Corporate Flight Management (KJWN, Nashville, TN)

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

Nothing warms the heart like the tale of a good FBO stepping up to take care of pilots during the holiday season. Fortunately for us, AVweb readers filled our stocking with such tales this week — and here's one of our favorites.

Josh Johnson headed over the river and through the woods to visit family in Nashville, Tennessee this holiday and discovered our latest "FBO of the Week," Corporate Flight Management at John C. Tune Airport (KJWN):

As part of my flight planning, I called the FBO to see what their holiday hours were; I was told 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! I don't see that often anymore!

Upon arrival, I was greeted with a golf cart to carry our bags from the tiedowns to the terminal building. We departed at 8:00pm to beat some weather on the way home, and it was an absolute pleasure to have flight planning and restrooms available. Mike Jr., one of the ramp agents, was in the flight planning room and offered to go retrieve our airplane so we wouldn't have to carry our infant son so far in the cold. An excellent experience — and, for a big city, their prices were not much higher than my home airport!

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!

Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Isn't it time to initiate a digital marketing program with AVweb that will deliver traffic and orders directly to your web site? Discover several new and highly successful marketing options to use in lieu of static print or banner campaigns. Click now for details.
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.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's 'On the Air' Section
Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

I heard this inside Orlando, Florida's airspace:

"Delta 345: Sorry I didn't give you higher earlier. Climb and maintain one four thousand. I didn't wanna spill your coffee this morning."

"That's okay; this guy is very smooth."

"I heard he's so smooth, he's gonna open a gas station, just so he can start gettin' paid for all those grease jobs."

Name withheld

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.