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Reports spread Wednesday from news sources like the Guardian U.K. to Stars and Stripes discussing new leaked images that are apparently meant to depict China's prototype stealth fighter, which some
call the J-20, in ground tests. To be sure, not all sources are convinced the pictures are representative of an actual functional prototype. The images have appeared in Chinese language editions of
the Global Times and Chinese censors have not removed the images, according to Forbes.com, but they also have not confirmed them. U.S.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates was scheduled to be in Beijing on Sunday, which has promoted some speculation with regard to the timing of the images' release. Guardian.co.uk states the photos are "likely to prompt calls for accelerated
production of F35's," which broadly suggests the unconfirmed images may be used for political influence. Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan was quoted saying, "It is not of concern
that they are working on a fifth-generation fighter." He added that they're "still having difficulties with their fourth-generation fighter." If nothing else, the images are visually appropriate for
The jet, as pictured, is not exceptionally conventional in its planform. It appears to sport twin inlets, rear downward angled stabilizers or fins, plus a canard and widely spaced, sharply angled
twin vertical tails outboard of twin exhaust nozzles. The nozzles, at first blush, appear to be conventional, or at least are dissimilar to the thrust-vectoring variety seen on the F-22. According to
Stars and Stripes, "China's decade-long military buildup is
well known, if not completely understood." The main question asked by the military news source is not whether the Chinese-made jet exists, but "could China effectively use them?"
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American Airlines will not be allowed to participate in the investigation of last week's runway-overrun incident in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the NTSB said on Friday. The safety board said airline
technicians violated standard procedures when they downloaded information from the digital flight data recorder after it was removed from the incident aircraft, a 757. "Although a thorough examination
by our investigators determined that no information from the DFDR was missing or altered in any way, the breach of protocol by American Airlines personnel violates the Safety Board's standards of
conduct for any organization granted party status in an NTSB investigation," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "We have revoked the party status of American Airlines and excused them from further
participation in this incident investigation."
The NTSB said American employees removed the cockpit voice recorder and the digital flight data recorder from the 757 and flew them to Tulsa, Okla., where technicians downloaded information from
the DFDR. The NTSB said it is common in incident investigations for the airline involved to transport the recorders on their own aircraft, to get them to NTSB labs in Washington. D.C., as quickly
as possible. The airline is instructed to transport the recorders without delay and without accessing the information contained within them by any means. "This practice has worked efficiently and
without complication for more than 40 years," the NTSB said. The airline said a full review will be undertaken "to ensure that such an occurrence is not repeated," according to the NTSB. American
Airlines Flight 2253, a B-757-200 inbound from Chicago O'Hare International Airport, ran off the end of Runway 19 in snowy conditions while landing at Jackson Hole Airport, at about 11:38 a.m. local
time on Dec. 29. No injuries were reported among the 181 passengers and crew on board. The incident was partially recorded on video by a passenger and posted on YouTube.
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The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators plans to host a GA Pilot Training Reform Symposium in May to address issues that were raised at the AOPA Flight Training Summit in November. The
symposium, which is expected to include 150 to 300 participants, will focus on strategies to reduce fatal accidents, increase student-pilot starts and improve student retention. The event will feature
keynote speakers as well as six panels of leaders from the industry, academia, the FAA and the flight instructor community. "A new pilot training paradigm is vital to securing a more robust future for
general aviation," according to the group's website. SAFE hopes the symposium will help to create a strategic three-to-five-year plan jointly developed by all stakeholders, including the FAA.
"Securing a more robust future for general aviation will require a collaborative effort among original equipment manufacturers, courseware providers, organizations and trade associations,
university aviation programs and fixed-base operators, insurance providers, and regulatory agencies," said Bob Wright, chair of the symposium committee. "We envision this process being driven from the
flight line upward." Cessna Aircraft Company, King Schools, Lightspeed Aviation, the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association, and Sporty's Academy, among others, have signed as partners to participate in
the event. The symposium will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, Ga., on May 4 and 5. For more information, go to the event web
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Based on recent history, the NTSB Friday sent two safety recommendations to the FAA requiring operators to inspect the mountings of all ELT transmitters installed on general aviation aircraft to
ensure the units don't break free in a crash. The recommendations (PDF) are the byproduct of the de Havilland
turbine Otter crash in Alaska on Aug. 9, 2010, that killed five, including former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. The wreckage was found nearly five hours after the crash and while its 406 Mhz ELT had
activated, the unit had separated from its antenna. No satellites, or rescue aircraft involved in the search, were able to detect the signal, according to the NTSB. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman
summed up the problem simply. "This vital life-saving technology won't do anyone any good if it doesn't stay connected to the antenna," said Hersman.
The specific emergency locator transmitter involved in the Otter crash was an Artex ME406, which "consisted of a mounting tray affixed to the aircraft and an ELT module that 'nested' in the tray."
A first responder found the unit loose on the aft floor of the plane. It was switched on, but "showed evidence that the antenna and remote switch cable had been pulled out." The NTSB did not determine
if that separation was the result of improper mounting or other factors. The NTSB is concerned that other units similar to the ME406 are at risk of being thrown free of their mounting trays with
similar results. Generally, the NTSB recommends that during annual inspections, all emergency locator transmitters undergo detailed inspections to ensure they are mounted per the manufacturer's
specifications. It further recommends that the FAA determine if current mounting requirements and retention tests are adequate.
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For those pilots ready for a break from winter, the Sebring LSA Expo is coming up, and for those who prefer to celebrate the snow, EAA invites skiplane pilots to converge at Oshkosh, Wis. The sixth
annual U.S. Sport Aviation Expo runs Jan. 20-23 at the Sebring Regional Airport in central Florida. The event provides an opportunity for pilots and enthusiasts to learn about the sport pilot
certificate and sample the wide range of LSA aircraft that are available. The show features exhibits, workshops, demo flights and forums. EAA's skiplane fly-in is set for Jan. 22 at the Pioneer
Airport in Oshkosh, with at least 25 aircraft expected to attend. The fly-in is free and open to the public.
Pilots who want to participate in the skiplane event must contact EAA in advance for approval and flight briefings. Contact Sean Elliot in EAA Aircraft Operations by e-mail or call 920-426-4886. Pilots who prefer to head for the Florida sunshine can find details about the Sebring event at the LSA Expo website. General admission to the show is $10 per day or $30 for a four-day pass. AVweb staffers will be attending the Sebring show, so watch for reports, podcasts
and video from the event.
The Discovery Channel launches a new reality show this month, "Flying Wild Alaska," that follows the adventures of Era
Alaska, a family-owned charter company. Era is based in Unalakleet, a small town on the coast near the Bering Strait. During the show's 10 episodes, "the Tweto family battles unforgiving Alaska
weather and terrain to transport life's necessities to one of the most remote and extreme regions of America," according to Discovery. The company was founded with just one airplane serving the local
area but now comprises nearly 75 aircraft that fly to destinations across the state. The show focuses on the "quirky" and "passionate" members of the Tweto family -- Jim and his wife, Ferno, and their
two 20-something daughters, Ayla and Ariel -- but also includes plenty of flying action, with shots of backcountry landings and flights in extreme conditions. "Mostly it's just about flying airplanes
in rural Alaska," Jim Tweto told The Alaska Daily News. The series premieres Friday, Jan. 14, at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time.
The Discovery crew worked in Alaska from August to November last year to shoot the program. "Battling minus-40F degree winters and hurricane-like winds for months on end, the intrepid pilots of Era
Alaska are among the best in the world," says Discovery. "They combat big storms in small planes -- a scenario only suited for the most experienced, especially with such precious cargo. From champion
snow dogs bound for the Iditarod, to medicine for sick children, to groceries for miners working on the North Slope, Era Alaska transports a wide range of goods." Ferno Tweto told ADN the family
doesn't receive the Discovery channel at their home, but they plan to watch the program at a neighbor's house. "I'm really pushing to get [a satellite] dish out here," Tweto said.
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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.
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The business aviation sector got some positive press from the mainstream media this week when The Boston Globe reported that corporate jet activity was up by 7
percent in 2010 at Hanscom Field, a small GA airport close to the city. Bill Herp, president of Linear Air, said his business doubled in 2010 compared to the year before. Herp charters four Eclipse
jets out of the field, charging about $1,500 an hour. Rectrix Aviation, another local charter company, said business was up 15 percent, and they hired three pilots and added a jet to their fleet in
September. The number of jets based at Hanscom has increased by a third in the last three years, and the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the field, is planning to expand.
"We have a waiting list of aircraft that want to come into Hanscom," Massport executive director Thomas Kinton told the Globe. Plans call for 400,000 square feet of new hangar space, plus
expanding a current 18,000-square-foot hangar to three times its size. The project may face opposition from neighbors, however, who have challenged the FAA's expansion plans in court, saying that
local historical sites and a wildlife refuge will be adversely affected by added traffic. Neighbors have challenged aviation activities in the area in the past, even filing lawsuits against individual
pilots who they said were practicing noisy aerobatic maneuvers too close to homes.
The Taiwanese government has entered the business jet charter business. The government-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) flew its maiden flight last Saturday from Taichung City in
the interior of the island state to Kinmen Island, off its coast. The company is using Astra SP aircraft it imported in 2000. The company hopes to run both domestic and international charters and has
set its sights Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila. The big plum in the Taiwanese charter business is behind a geopolitical roadblock.
By far the most lucrative routes for the state-run company and other private interests that might be interested would be hops to China, which, despite the tense relationship between them, is
Taiwan's most important trading partner. As we reported in November, a Taiwanese start-up, Win Air, has put a G550 in
service and is the first privately owned charter company to operate in the country. It too, is hoping diplomatic relations between the two governments will allow direct private flights over the
It seems like every aspect of Indian aviation is in a growth mode and a new service was added last week. The first seaplane service to the Indian islands of Andaman and Nicobar has been launched
using a Cessna 208A on amphib floats. And, like a lot of Indian aviation enterprises, it will rely heavily on foreign pilots and other personnel to stay afloat. There is only one Indian pilot who has
flown the Caravan and none have flown it on floats. A couple of American pilots will keep it island hopping while the company starting the service, Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd., finds and trains locals
to get their feet wet. The Indian government is pretty enthusiastic about the venture and predicts a big future for seaplane service.
In a media event hosted at Mumbai Airport, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told those present that tourism is growing by leaps and bounds on the islands off the coast of India and the market
for seaplane service should grow. "The Centre is permitting 100% foreign direct investment in this sector and service providers like PHHL should float a subsidiary to run a fleet of seaplanes," Patel
said, "We want to see PHHL emerge as a 500-aircraft entity."
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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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.
Actually, we'll have updates to the slideshow on our home page on Thursday morning, as usual, and keen-eyed readers will be able to spot our weekly "POTW" column on the web site later in the day
but since we've got an overstuffed bag of e-mails and comments to look at tonight, we won't make our Thursday morning deadline for the AVwebFlash. Not to worry, though if you
don't catch "POTW" online later today, it'll be waiting in your inbox on Monday morning.
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.