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Volume 17, Number 2a
January 10, 2011
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AVflash! Weather Delays Iranian Rescue Effortsback to top 

At least 70 people died and 32 were injured when an Iranian airliner (possibly a Boeing 727) crashed in heavy snow in the mountainous northwestern area of the country Sunday. The plane was flying from Tehran to Oriumyeh; the accident may have happened on the aircraft's second attempt to land. The snow, more than two feet of it, is hampering rescue efforts. Weather reports at the time of the crash indicate visibility was 600 to 800 feet. More...

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Paying the Costback to top 

Air Force and Navy variants of the F-35 fighter are progressing, but the Marine Corps' short takeoff and vertical landing version has been put on a two-year probation and may be canceled altogether if concerns aren't met. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters, "If we cannot fix this variant during this time frame, and get it back on track in terms of performance, cost and schedule, then I believe it should be canceled." Citing a Pentagon document, Reuters reported Thursday that the military has reduced its order for the Lockheed jet from 449 aircraft to 325 F-35s through fiscal year 2016, and "cost-cutting efforts were still needed." The order reduction could save the government more than $10 billion, Reuters reported, and nearly half of that money would head right back into the program's development to offset cost overruns. Airframes (without engines) are currently priced in the ballpark of $130 million. But that's nothing compared to the program's overall cost, which sets a high-water mark for Pentagon arms programs. More...

In what some might consider a paradox of modern politics on the use of private aviation, the new governor of Florida will donate the use of his own aircraft for his own travels around the 26th largest state while selling off the state's own airplanes. He says anyone else in the government who needs to get from Tallahassee to anywhere else in a hurry can book on the airlines or drive their own car. In fact, Rick Scott, a wealthy Naples businessman, campaigned on what he termed the waste of operating the 2003 Citation Bravo and a 2000 King Air 350 at a cost of $2.4 million a year. It wasn't immediately clear what type of aircraft Scott owns. It's also been noted by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that this isn't exactly the best time to be selling off used aircraft, especially since the Citation is leased. In case anyone is interested, the plane is already listed for sale on Aircraft Shopper Online, even though the state's legislature hasn't yet formally signed off on the sale. More...

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Backscatter Backlashback to top 

Constitutional rights issues aren't the only problem; participants asked to sneak explosives past the backscatter X-ray machines now used at U.S. airports "did it with such ease," according to one security expert, that "there is no case for scanners." Security expert Edward Luttwak is a senior associate at the Center for International and Strategic Studies and he delivered those words Thursday, joined by other critical voices in Washington, AFP reported. Luttwak said a test conducted in Europe asked German prison guards to try to get past three different scanners while carrying explosives. Based on that test, he says the International Air Travel Association (IATA) believes there is no case for the devices in airport security. Ralph Nader, Congressman Rush Hold and professional pilot Michael Roberts all added their own opinions on the full-body x-ray machines, but focused mostly on privacy, freedom and rights issues. In that context, Luttwak's argument stands out, and he detailed what he believes are better solutions that the IATA also supports. More...

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Green Means "Go"back to top 

The latest entry in the electric plane sweepstakes, the Elektra One by PC-Aero of Germany, is nearing first flight and the single-seat composite could be the first of several models to be produced by the company. The company says the Elektra One will have a maximum battery endurance of three hours on its 21-horsepower motor. The company is predicting a top speed of more than 100 mph and planning the first flight for early February. Static testing on the airframe was conducted in December and the power plant was live-tested in November. Future plans are ambitious. More...

AeroExpo UK || 17-19 June 2011 || Sywell, 
AeroExpo UK
... is the dedicated General Aviation exhibition in 2011, showcasing everything from ultralights through to turboprops and jets. Whether you are interested in learning to fly or are already a pilot and want to view the latest products available, AeroExpo UK has it covered!

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Aviation Safetyback to top 

The fatal accident rate for jet and turboprop aircraft rose 22 percent last year, according to Ascend, a London-based aviation consulting firm, but longer-term trends are positive. Four accidents, none attributed to U.S. carriers, accounted for 65 percent of total passenger fatalities, according to Ascend. They included an Air India crash at Mangalore, in May; an Airblue accident at Islamabad, in July; an Afriquiyah crash at Tripoli, in May; and an Ethiopian Airlines crash at Beirut, in January. Looking at trends, Ascend states that decade over decade, the 1990s saw an average of ten more accidents per year than did the 2000s. "We believe that air safety is still improving," the group stated. While nearly 8000 passengers and crew were killed in airline accidents over the past decade, the prior decade saw 11,280 deaths. Numbers from the NTSB and specific to the U.S. aren't yet available for 2010, but, in context, the figures are noteworthy. More...

The NTSB has studied airbag use in mitigating injury in survivable GA accidents and will hold a public meeting Jan. 11 to consider its findings, which it has not yet made available. The study was initiated to examine the effectiveness of airbags in survivable crashes and to identify possible unintended consequences of airbag deployment in small aircraft. The agency also used the study to help develop procedures to assist investigators when dealing with the systems in future investigations. The NTSB says it will post a summary of the study online following the conclusion of the Jan. 11 meeting with the full study to appear a few weeks after that. Meanwhile, interested parties can attend the meeting or watch it online. More...

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Now That's a Delayed Arrival!back to top 

The interim mayor of Charlotte, N.C., is leading the effort to raise $250,000 needed to help US Airways Flight 1549 reach its final destination. The Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte recently announced that the Airbus A320 famously ditched in the Hudson River by pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles two years ago would be put on display in its crash-damaged state as a tribute to the advances in aircraft technology that helped make the fatality-free landing possible. But while the deal has been made with Chartis, the current owner of the salvage, actually getting the airliner's remains from a New Jersey warehouse to Charlotte will be up to the generosity of Charlotte's citizens and whomever else might want to kick in. "We are in tough economic times right now," Interim Mayor Patrick Cannon told WIS TV. "And so all you can do is make the ask and that's what we'll do." More...

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Our Questions, Your Answersback to top 

BrainteasersFree beer tomorrow; free lift today! That's not the FAA's new slogan but, instead, a reminder that some things in life — and flight — are free. Defend your free access to the sky by acing this free quiz.

Take the quiz.


copyright © Jerry Huether
Used with permission

Last week, Jerry Huether submitted the photo at right (shot over Oregon looking toward Mt. Shasta) along with this comment: "What I really want is to know what caused the illusion of the prop blade detaching from hub. The background would be blurred if it was such a long exposure — and descent/climb was involved. Any ideas??" We've called it "the iPhone effect" around the office and thought Jerry Huether's question would be a good excuse to put the question to our readers and learn a bit more about what causes this sort of prop distortion — particularly the vertical/horizontal "blinds" seen on iPhone pics. More...

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


Letter of the Week: A Brief History of Flight Planning

I've read with considerable interest on this and other sites about the FlightPrep patent enforcement efforts and some concerns that have been expressed by the flying community. I'm not quite sure I understand what all the fuss is about ... .


FlightPrep has said that it is enforcing a legitimate patent to protect its software innovation. I happen to agree. Some in the flying community have argued that FlightPrep's efforts are akin to trying patent air and are harming the flying community. I respectfully disagree on both counts. First, the notion that Roger Stenbock and Kyle Everson don't have the best interest of the flying community at heart is simply misinformed, in my opinion. Why do I think that? Because of my familiarity with both of these pilots/software developers for more than 23 years.


Bottom line: Roger Stenbock and Kyle Everson are both long-time pilots and software developers. They have pioneered huge innovations in the field of computer-based flight planning, and those innovations deserve protection, as all innovations do. Just because some of those innovations seem ubiquitous today doesn't mean they still don't deserve protection. If you invent something new, you have the right to protect that invention under our current patent and copyright system.

Just because the Wright Brothers patented the airplane doesn't mean we all can't fly one. Just because Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone doesn't mean we can't use one. Just because Stenbock and Everson developed the first online flight planner doesn't mean we can't use that either.


Bill Seith

Click through to read the rest of this letter — and others from AVweb readers.


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 What have you heard? More...

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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


Our latest "FBO of the Week" story may seem awfully familiar to readers coping with snowfall today. AVweb reader Anse Windham recently dealt with similar weather at Yadkin Valley Aviation, located at Elkin Municipal Airport (KZEF) in Elkin, North Carolina:

[Manager] Sandy Shore called to inform me that there was eight inches of snow on my Cessna. The tail was on the pavement, and the snow needed to be removed before the night's freeze so I could leave next morning. I could not get there, so Sandy removed the snow, placed the airplane in a hangar, and, next morning, towed it to the fuel pump and helped fuel it at the self-serve pump.

Hmm — you don't suppose Sandy would be willing to shovel some sidewalks for good old AVweb, do you ... ?

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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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

If you park your aircraft outside, you need a cover. Jeff Van West shows the pros and cons of Aviation Consumer's top picks. More...

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. More...

Reader-Submitted Photosback to top 

Matt Schantz of Parker, Colorado flew into 85U at Soldier Bar, Idaho for this idyllic landscape that we couldn't resist naming our "Picture of the Week." More...

Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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.