AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 1a

January 3, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Mid-Air Collision Over Virginia back to top 

Medevac Heli And Cessna Collide

A Eurocopter EC135 and a Cessna 172L collided near Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, Va., at about 2:30 p.m., Friday, killing both of the Cessna's occupants. The Eurocopter landed with damage to its skids and "it wasn't pretty," helicopter instructor Mark Huntley told NewsVirginian.com. The Eurocopter, a medical transport helicopter owned by PHI Inc. in Lafayette, La., was returning from a successful mission to University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. All three aboard that aircraft did walk away. The Cessna lost part or all of its left wing in the collision and crumpled debris crashed down on two sides of Route 256, roughly one half mile north of the airport.

Huntley, who heard the collision and witnessed the helicopter's landing, said he thought the Eurocopter's pilot was "very professional shutting it all down." Huntley added, "It wasn't until he was on the ground for a little bit 'til he showed signs of what he'd been through." The Eurocopter had been inbound for landing when it made contact with the Cessna. No route of flight information was immediately available about the Cessna. PHI is working with the FAA and NTSB to investigate the midair.

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Safety on the Ground back to top 

Tu-154 Grounding Recommended

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Russia's air transport regulator Rostransnadzor is recommending the grounding of Tu-154 passenger jets after the third major incident involving the Soviet era tri-jet, of which there are now 14 operating. A Kogalymavia jet caught fire and exploded while taxiing at the airport in Surgut, Siberia on Saturday. Three people were killed and many of the other 113 aboard were seriously injured with everything from burns and toxic smoke inhalation to injuries suffered in the stampede that reportedly occurred during the evacuation. "Rostransnadzor has prepared an instruction which recommends air companies suspend flight operations carried out by Tu-154B aircraft until the causes of the plane accident in the Airport of Surgut are not established and measures to abate the risks coming from using this kind of aircraft are not taken," a statement by the agency said.

A Tu-154 carrying the president of Poland crashed on approach to a foggy airport in Russia in April, killing everyone aboard. In September, a Russian Ru-154 suffered an in-flight electrical failure and the crew was able to make an emergency landing at a former Russian military field. In early December, a Tu-154 broke apart after an emergency landing in Moscow that may have been related to a fuel problem.

Video: 757 Overrun Video Ignites Pilot Speculation

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

Video shot by a passenger aboard American Airlines Flight 2253 as it overran Runway 19 at Jackson Hole, Wednesday, shows unusual operation of the aircraft's systems, according to some pilots. The 6,300-foot runway sits at an elevation of 6,451 feet and the pilots landed in light snow at about 11:37 a.m. About seven inches of snow had fallen in the area since midnight, but the runway itself was reportedly in good condition with good braking coefficients. The aircraft appears to be on the ground prior to passing the PAPI lights and wind sock, which would be appropriate. In the video, the engine's thrust reverser panel first moves just after touchdown, but it does not fully open and the outboard spoilers are not visibly deployed. Because of that, things quickly get more interesting.

A full ten seconds after touchdown, the thrust reverser panel moves from barely open to closed. The thrust reverser panel does not begin to reopen, this time fully, until approximately seven seconds later, 17 seconds after touchdown. The engines do not appear to spool up until roughly ten seconds after that. That means the 757 rolls on the runway for 27 seconds before the reversers appear amply engaged. It departs the end of the runway roughly nine seconds later. Pilots who claim to be familiar with the 757 have left comments in professional pilot forums online stating that the thrust reversers on the 757 can sometimes refuse to engage. Others have speculated that a hydraulic problem or a problem with the Boeing's air/ground logic system could have prevented the spoilers, reversers and, most important, the brakes from working properly. For this flight, no one was injured and the aircraft came to rest in packed snow, and still on its gear, about 350 feet beyond the runway overrun area. The NTSB is working the case and should have good cockpit voice and flight data recorder information already in hand. And we'll know if blame will be placed primarily with the crew, with the aircraft, or both.

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Capitol Confusion back to top 

Read-Back Error Prompts Capitol Emergency

A Piedmont Airlines Dash 8 pilot's read-back error triggered an emergency response in Washington on Saturday. The FAA has confirmed the pilot selected the wrong frequency after a handoff while approaching Washington Reagan National Airport . Contact was lost for about 15 minutes while fighters were scrambled and government offices were evacuated. The plane landed safely after communications were restored.

The response is a standard one and an investigation is under way. The assumption was that the plane had been hijacked and it's not clear how communications were restored, whether the crew noticed the error, whether controllers found them on the wrong frequency or whether the message was delivered via hand signals from an intercepting aircraft...

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Sun Setting on Current Medical Requirements? back to top 

Arguing For The End Of The Third Class Medical

Following up on a health-related pilot story, AVweb contacted senior aviation medical examiner Dr. Brent Blue, who said, "I think the FAA is actually starting to float the idea of either dropping or relaxing third class medicals." Blue pointed out the limitations of aviation medical certification standards, and the risk factors that aviation medical examinations are not equipped (or regulated) to detect. In spite of that, Blue says medical issues are cited as causal factors in fewer than 1 percent of aircraft accidents. He notes that the FAA has relaxed regulations regarding the frequency of certain pilot health examinations and believes money (and safety statistics) may push the FAA to further relax, or remove, third class medical requirements.

AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke to Dr. Blue in this week's podcast. Click through to listen.

A note to listeners:
Blue mistakenly states that medical frequency requirements are triggered at the age of 35. It's actually 40.

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Valentine's Day Plans Up in the Air — Or Not back to top 

British Mile High Flights Grounded By CAA

Founder Mike Crisp says his air charter's bed-laden Cessna Grand Caravan has been grounded "because of some prudish snobbery on the part of the CAA." The CAA disagrees. Crisp's business, Mile High Flights, operated for two years out of Gloucestershire, England, giving couples (and one threesome) the opportunity to join the mile high club. Now, the CAA says the company has failed to meet safety criteria and the regulatory agency will not renew the company's operating license. The Mile High Flights Caravan has been fitted with a few seats and a bed separated from the flight deck by curtains. According to a CAA spokesman, "We cast no moral judgments on what people do in their planes, that's not our business." Safety is, and the agency claims that's where they have discovered problems. Exactly what those problems are has not been widely reported but one source said the CAA has suggested in-flight activities on these special flights could prove distracting for pilots. Crisp says he's not giving up.

According to Crisp, his work has proven to be "a very popular business idea." He says he invested more than $15,000 in equipping the aircraft with fire-retardant sheets, upholstery and bedding. The flights had offered Brits their chance at amorous airborne encounters starting at about $1,000. Crisp says the business attracted patrons of all (legal) ages, and from all walks of life. The CAA says Mile High Flights failed to offer safety chiefs the necessary assurances and otherwise the agency has "no issue" with the company's business.

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Patent Pandemonium back to top 

NavMonster Cuts Deal With FlightPrep

The FlightPrep patent story took another turn Friday when NavMonster.com, which pulled down its popular site about two weeks ago, suddenly announced it had reached a deal with FlightPrep and will relaunch an updated website early in the New Year. "We got all the lawyers and programmers together from both sides, and after some good discussions, an agreement has been reached," NavMonster owner Marc Alexander said in a statement posted on the site. "No more patent infringement worries." It's a significant change in tone from the angry condemnation that appeared on the site two weeks ago when Alexander announced he was pulling the pin.

In his latest post, Alexander suggests the site is coming back by popular demand and will be better in its new form. "Since the site is already down, we're taking the opportunity to change a few things around," he wrote. "But NavMonster should be back, stronger than ever, on the first of the new year." We may not discover the details of Alexander's change of heart since FlightPrep requires the signing of a non-disclosure agreement before licensing negotiations begin. The NavMonster deal brings to two the licensing agreements negotiated on FlightPrep's patent. SkyVector also has a deal. Meanwhile, the lawsuit against RunwayFinder continues through the court process. Both sides have agreed to a month-long delay in those proceedings.

AVweb Insider Blog: FlightPrep Responds

FlightPrep's enforcement of its patent on online flight planning has created a lot of discussion. AVweb had some questions we felt went unanswered, but FlightPrep's Travis Cannon joins us as a guest blogger on the AVweb Insider with responses.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: The Bottom Line

Could there be more to the bottom line than just money? In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Mary Grady looks at a new initiative aiming to recognize that profit is not the only worthwhile measure of success, especially when it comes to retaining students in flight schools and getting them through the program and into certification.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Flight Plan Fumbles

Are flight plans more trouble than they're worth? They can be, as Paul Bertorelli was recently reminded. If FSS has ever dropped your VFR flight plan or failed to close it when you ask, check out Paul's latest misadventure on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

What Could Be the End of the Third Class Medical

File Size 10.0 MB / Running Time 10:55

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Senior aviation medical examiner Dr. Brent Blue (of AeroMedix.com) thinks "the FAA is actually starting to float the idea of either dropping or relaxing third class medicals." Find out why he thinks so and what may matter more in the case of second and first class certification.

A note to listeners:
Blue mistakenly states that medical frequency requirements are triggered at the age of 35. It's actually 40.

Click here to listen. (10.0 MB, 10:55)

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.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Leading Edge Aviation (KLGU, Logan, Utah)

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

Lately, we've featured FBOs that AVweb readers have discovered far from home — typically in the midst of dealing with a mechanical or weather crisis. But this week, Cathy Myers shines the spotlight on Logan, Utah's Leading Edge Aviation, located at Logan-Cache Airport (KLGU), where "a cordial and welcoming atmospher [for] the local aviation community" never takes a back-seat to the FBO's "excellent service to all types of transient aircraft." How do they manage it? Cathy writes:

LEA has co-sponsored airport open house festivities and provided discount fuel to all participating pilots. They also organized and funded several cross-country fly-ins to the beautiful Flaming Gorge area in northeast Utah. These events provided camping, rafting, live music, dinner, and flying competitions. Safety, service and professionalism is always the goal [at Leading Edge] and has always been appreciated by those who stop in.

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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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.

15 Grand Giveaways Celebrating 15 Years of AVweb: The Prize Winners

2010 is disappearing in the rearview mirror, and over the course of AVweb's 15th year of publishing, we gave away 15 prizes valued at least $1,000 each to our readers in celebration. It was our way to say "thank you" for your support, and we look forward to the next 15 years of covering aviation for you.

Here's the complete list of prize winners:

  1. Ron Goin of Idaho Falls, ID won a Bose Aviation Headset X.
  2. Rod Anson of Camperdown, VC (Australia) won a grab bag of publications from our parent company, Belvoir Media Group.
  3. Colleen Keller of San Diego, CA won a Garmin Aera 510 GPS.
  4. Jack Feiden of Wichita, KS won a WxWorx XM WX Satellite Weather receiver.
  5. David Schieman of Lawrenceville, GA won a Scheyden flight gear package, including Dual RX eyewear.
  6. William R. Smith of Madison, CT won a Get-It-All Training Kit from King Schools.
  7. Richard Kemp of Canton, GA won an AV8OR handheld GPS from Bendix/King by Honeywell.
  8. Lukasz Shaded of Lawrenceville, GA won a Zaon PCAS XRX.
  9. Roger Newcomb of Austin, TX won a Spidertracks Aviator.
  10. David Durnan of Somerville, MA won a Bose Aviation Headset X.
  11. Ronald C. Hanna of Independence, OR won a PMA6000B audio panel from PS Engineering.
  12. Richard Merrill of New Town, CT won a Lightspeed Zulu headset.
  13. Lt. Col. Chris Parkhurst of Virginia Beach, VA won a 100,000 Bravo Rewards Points from Air BP.
  14. Robert Yocum of Blain, PA won an iFly 700 GPS from Adventure Pilot.
  15. Steve Richard of Pleasanton, CA won a Garmin Aera 510 GPS.

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"

On a recent flight, a controller instructed myself and another pilot of each other's position and had us make the required adjustments. The controller was quite jovial and introduced himself as "Bruiser," warning us that he didn't want to see a repeat of the incident that earned him his nickname.

A few moments later, the other pilot came on the radio asked Bruiser how he got his nickname. The controller chuckled and told us that he and another controller had both been looking down while walking toward each other in the hall once and had bumped heads. Bruiser received six stitches, and the other controller received four.

I couldn't help myself and asked how these controllers managed to keep airplanes apart. A second later, a Comair flight checked in at FL290, adding that he too was "a little nervous now."

Bruiser at the center didn't miss a beat. He replied, "Don't worry, fellas. I'm using my good eye today."

Pete Harmon Lee
New Hampshire

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.