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Volume 17, Number 3a
January 17, 2011
Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset
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AVflash! Rethinking Avgasback to top 

As the world economy slowly rights itself and oil prices are poised to move upward, the Navy and Air Force say they're on track to produce at least half of their fuel requirements by the end of this decade, if not earlier. And for the Navy, that also means propulsion fuel for its non-nuclear surface vessels. In this podcast, Thomas Hicks, the Navy's deputy secretary for energy, told AVweb that ground and flight tests of a 50/50 blend of biofuel and conventional JP-8 in an F-18 testbed have proven highly successful, with no surprises. The services are seeking a drop-in replacement for their traditional petroleum-derived jet fuels and both the Navy and Air Force have proved that, conceptually, they can reach the goal. "To the fleet, it will be a straight drop-in. They won't see any difference," said Rick Kamin, the Navy's lead researcher on alternative fuels. The heat contents, weights and other factors are so similar to JP-8 that no performance or storage and handling exceptions need to be considered, Kamin told us. The Navy favors a 50/50 blend because traditional JP-8 contains enough aromatic compounds to promote swelling of seals, O-rings and gaskets, which pure biofuels cannot do.

Related Content:


AeroVironment Inc. announced Tuesday that it has successfully flown at Edwards Air Force Base its Global Observer drone, a hydrogen-fuel-powered unmanned aircraft sporting a 175-foot wingspan and one-week-long endurance. The aircraft's internal-combustion engine burns cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen, leaving water vapor for exhaust. That system powers a generator that delivers electricity to the aircraft's four wing-mounted motors. The aircraft is being developed to serve as a surveillance and communication link platform, while flying mostly at 65,000 feet. In surveillance roles, the company says the aircraft's endurance could translate to coverage of 280,000 square miles per flight. In its test flight, the aircraft flew for four hours at about 3,000 feet. More...

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Rules and Regulationsback to top 

The FAA may be planning rulemaking that will allow the use of non-military unmanned aerial vehicles in civilian airspace, according to USA Today. The newspaper quotes FAA spokesman Les Dorr as saying the proposed rules could be released this year and a public comment period will be included. He also told USA Today that the agency is talking with the Justice Department and national law enforcement groups "about possibly trying to streamline the process of applying for certificates of authorization" for operation of drones. The proposed rule appears to be limited to the use of small drones by law enforcement agencies, who are reportedly itching to get their hands on the eyes in the sky. More...

The FCC has stayed their rule (PDF) on the prohibition of 121.5 MHz ELTs (signals no longer processed by satellites) and is "planning a new Notice requesting public comment on the future of legacy 121.5 ELTs." The action is a response to concerns expressed by the FAA, one of which is supply. The FAA warned the FCC that the current supply of 406 MHz ELTs is insufficient to replace all 121.5 MHz ELTs in the near term. Because of that, reasoned the FAA, prohibiting the use of 121.5 MHz ELTs "would" effectively ground "most" general aviation aircraft. The FAA also expressed concern regarding the potential continued value provided by 121.5 MHz ELTs in locating aircraft "even without satellite monitoring of frequency 121.5 MHz." Search and rescue operators still monitor the frequency. The FAA also expressed concerned about the associated cost to operators of forcing a transition. More...

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The Big Iron: Present and Futureback to top 

Delta Air Lines is using a potential order for 100 to 200 aircraft, with options for 200 more, to inspire proposals from major airframe manufacturers on the heels of a record $15.6 billion order for 180 aircraft from IndiGo, landed by Airbus. The company said Thursday that it hopes to take delivery starting in 2013, with aircraft that could range from large to small single-aisle designs. Delta acquired Northwest in 2008 and now operates more than 700 aircraft. The new orders could ultimately replace Delta's Airbus A320, Boeing 757-200, and DC9-50 series aircraft. The potential order could stimulate strong competition from the usual suspects and inspire some hopefuls. More...

Click for more photos
NASA has released images of what three aerospace companies predict the near future of airliners might be but given the typical development time and the economics of such projects, the 2025 target date seems optimistic for these radical designs. Boeing's projection of a blended-wing aircraft might be the closest to fruition since it's already testing a scale model at Edwards Air Force Base, but Northrop Grumman's double-fuselage creation and Lockheed Martin's giant tail-mounted engine proposal are perhaps a little far-fetched. More...

Thanks for JA Air Center || Vote for Us in 
the AIN FBO Survey
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Thanks to all the Flight Crews who made us their first choice for Chicagoland arrivals in 2010! Whether it's the best location in Chicago with direct tollway access, our giant arrival canopy, or our world-class facilities that brought you here, we know it is our warm, friendly service that keeps you coming back! We would greatly appreciate your vote in the AIN FBO survey! Vote now.
Snow, Ice Not the Only Cause of Delays This Weekback to top 

In an act of kindness not often seen in the hectic world of airline flying, a Southwest captain delayed a departure for 12 minutes to allow a grandfather rushing to his dying grandson's bedside to board the flight. Mark Dickerson, a Northrop Grumman engineer, was in Los Angeles when he learned that a child abuse incident left his grandson, Caden Rogers, lying brain dead in a Denver hospital. He arrived at Los Angeles Airport only to find a long security line, and airport workers weren't buying his story about Caden and refused to allow him to the front of the line. In desperation, Dickerson phoned his wife who followed up with Southwest, contacting the flight's captain. On his own, the skipper delayed the flight until Dickerson arrived, greeting him at the cabin door. Southwest spokesperson Marilee McInnis told ABC news that the captain has been identified but his name wasn't released, pending the pilot's permission. More...

The TSA is investigating after a passenger mistakenly picked up a bag holding a gun belonging to a Federal Flight Deck Officer at New York's JFK Airport on Thursday. Michael Connery Jr., a first officer for JetBlue, was waiting to board the aircraft he was to help fly to Pittsburgh and set his bag next to Rachel Hazan's. Hazan was also waiting for a JetBlue flight to West Palm Beach. Hazan was traveling with her parents and her two children and when it was time to board, she scooped up everything, including Connery's bag, and the 40-caliber handgun inside, and carried it onto her flight. Things soon got more complicated for both of them, but especially for Connery. More...

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Sport Aviation Puts On a Show in Sunny Floridaback to top 

The airshow season is officially under way and thousands are expected at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring Fla., starting Thursday. There will be hundreds of exhibitors and demonstrators in the show aimed mostly at the Light Sport sector. AVweb will be there with full coverage and a special show edition on Friday. A note to exhibitors: If you have something new or otherwise important to share with the more than 250,000 people who regularly use AVweb as their source for aviation news, by all means drop us a line at and we'll do our best to stop by. See you at the show! More...

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


Letter of the Week: Mandatory Shoulder Restraints

Regarding mandatory shoulder harnesses: I crashed and would not have gotten a scratch if shoulder harnesses had been installed in the plane. My injuries were minor, but I decided that I would install shoulder harnesses in all my planes.

The first attempt was in an Ercoupe; the second was in a Taylorcraft. The FAA's G-load requirement for shoulder harness installation made it impossible. At the time when I was wrestling with this, the FAA came out with a "re-interpretation" of the rule — citing the lives saved by the guys in Alaska who had installed shoulder harnesses in older planes — that, while they didn't meet the current requirements, provided a large measure of safety with little cost, no degradation to the plane, and, most importantly, that stated that "something is better than nothing."

I installed harnesses in both planes, made a logbook entry, and called it a minor change.

I think that shoulder harnesses would be a major improvement in any airplane, but retrofitting the old planes could be prohibitively costly if the requirement for them included a requirement to meet installation requirements used for planes that are coming off the assembly line today.

Louis Champeau

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

As Piper exits the LSA field, AVweb Insider blogger Paul Bertorelli finds himself wondering if this is the leading edge of the long-awaited shakeout in an over-supplied industry. Read more and join the conversation. More...

On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues that it's hard to tell at this juncture, but news stories on the topic tend to suggest the equation is more proven out than it actually is. Turbine biofuels work well, and the military is all over them, but until we see the price at the pump, call us skeptical. More...

AVbuys || AVweb Stories About Great 
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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening?back to top 

The Navy and Air Force are both testing biofuels as drop-in replacements for conventional jet fuel. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli spoke with Thomas Hicks, the Navy's Deputy Secretary for Energy Policy, about the promise and the potential pitfalls. More...

Technically, biofuel replacements are possible, but do they make economic sense? Shell Oil's John Hofmeister told AVweb's Paul Bertorelli that there's still a lot of oil out there and it's hard for biofuels to compete. More...

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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


AVweb reader Bud Beaty is a frequent visitor to Baytown Airport (KHPY) in Baytown, Texas — and to hear him tell it, there's no better FBO in America to be our latest "FBO of the Week":

The manager (Charlie) is a corporate pilot (Citation V), and he knows how pilots and passengers should be treated. His lovely wife Kathy and all his great employees treat their customers like royalty. We don't ask for anything — they take care of our every need automatically including an overnight crew-truck for the pilot. Charlie has spared no expense transforming HPY ... into a showcase FBO, completely gutting and rebuilding a new FBO, building new hangars, expanding/renovating the runway, and implementing (through the FAA) two GPS approaches. All the while, he has kept the fuel prices the lowest in the area and among the lowest in the nation. They have one price (and that is for self-service), yet they always provide full service at this price. Charlie has also expanded the airport operating hours and published his personal cell phone number as the after-hours contact number. It is truly a joy to visit HPY.

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

A collection of video clips from Chinese media outlets including: the J-20 fifth-generation "stealth" fighter jet's first flight, taxi and flight control tests, a size and planform comparison with other contemporary aircraft (F-22 and T-50), and brief images that may suggest the aircraft's avionics package. 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...

The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 

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

Heard while on approach to John Wayne Airport in Southern California:

Tower (addressing a Boeing 737 holding short of the runway) :
"Airline One Twenty-Three, are you ready to go?"

"Well, the captain is asleep — but he should wake up soon."

Gordon B. Crary
via e-mail


Heard anything funny, unusual, or downright shocking on the radio lately? If you've been flying any length of time, you're sure to have eavesdropped on a few memorable exchanges. The ones that gave you a chuckle may do the same for your fellow AVweb readers. Share your radio funny with us, and, if we use it in a future "Short Final," we'll send you a sharp-looking AVweb hat to sport around your local airport. No joke. Click here to submit your original, true, and previously unpublished story. 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.