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Volume 17, Number 4b
January 27, 2011
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AVflash! New U.S. House Speaks Out on Feesback to top 

One hundred and sixteen members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter (PDF) to President Barack Obama urging him not to support aviation user fees as a means to fund the FAA's budget for 2012. User fees would be "a step backward" in efforts to modernize the air traffic control system, and would have a "detrimental impact on general aviation and the flying public," the letter states. Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association, welcomed the effort. "We thank the Congressional leaders who took this action early in the year to reinforce a clear message of opposition to user fees, and welcome their unwavering support on this issue of critical importance to the entire general aviation community," Bolen said this week. NBAA said the current system of fuel taxes is proven and efficient. More...

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The FAA & Safetyback to top 

The FAA said last week it will take a fresh look at a longstanding rule that exempts aircraft operated by the federal government from most FAA regulations. "The statute is vague," said John Allen, the FAA official who oversees flight standards. "It is very confusing." Problems arise especially when Part 135 operators work under contract to a federal agency, according to Helicopter Association International, which hosted last week's forum. The FAA will issue a new Advisory Circular soon to clarify the issue, according to HAI. Allen said the agency plans to consider all contracted operations as civil operations by default. Operators and the FAA must be notified in advance, on a flight-by-flight basis, if public-aircraft status applies. More...

A pilot in California was killed earlier this month when his airplane struck a 197-foot-tall tower during an agricultural flight, just a few days after the FAA published a proposed policy that would establish voluntary procedures for marking such towers. Meteorological, or met, towers gather data to determine if a site would be profitable to develop for wind power, and they have proliferated in rural areas in recent years. Many of the towers are built to heights just a few feet below the 200-foot level that would require FAA notification and markings. The towers are often "narrow, unmarked and grey in color ... nearly invisible under some atmospheric conditions," according to the National Agricultural Aviation Association. The FAA proposes that the towers should be painted in alternating orange and white stripes, but compliance would be voluntary. The FAA is accepting comments on its proposal until Feb. 4. More... || We're All New!
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Look, Up in the Sky — It's a Plane!back to top 

China's latest flying military aircraft prototype, the J-20, may or may not be stealthy, or a true "fifth-generation" fighter, because "we don't know, frankly, much about the capabilities of that plane," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said this week. Currently, the Pentagon does not know if China's new aircraft uses a "fifth generation" engine or the capabilities of its avionics. Regardless, what the Pentagon believes is that by the time the J-20 is operational, the U.S. will be flying 187 F-22s, "which will be unmatched," and will have "an abundance of F-35s." And based on what the Pentagon does know, the new Chinese jet "has not changed the strategic calculus at all." Morrell also contested the notion that U.S. intelligence was caught flat-footed by the J-20's first flight, perhaps rolling back comments made earlier by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. More...

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News Briefsback to top 

A MiG-29 Soviet-era fighter jet flew for the first time above Washington state this week, after a two-year restoration project by the Historic Flight Foundation. The two-seat MiG-29UB was manufactured in the Soviet Union sometime between 1985 and 1991, and flew with the Ukrainian Air Force until 2005, when it was demilitarized and offered for sale to the public. The Foundation bought the airplane, but due to paperwork and shipping snafus, it didn't arrive in Washington until 2008. The restoration team fully disassembled the aircraft to inspect every part. Missing or damaged components were replaced with newly fabricated parts, and two huge new turbofan engines were specially manufactured by the Klimov factory in Russia. The MiG-29 is capable of reaching Mach 2.2 and 60,000 feet. More...

Mahindra Aerospace said this week its new five-seat airplane, which would be India's first indigenous GA aircraft, is expected to fly for the first time next month. According to Indian news sources, the NM5-100 will sell for "20 percent less than a similar aircraft from Cessna." The company has been working for a several years in partnership with India's National Aerospace Laboratories to design the airplane, which is expected to meet FAR Part 23 standards. A larger version of the airplane also is in the works, which would seat 8 to 10. The company has said it plans to become India's first manufacturer serving the GA market, with four to six models for global distribution. More...

Cannes AirShow || 9-11 June 2011 || The 
Only GA Expo in France
The Only General Aviation Exhibition in France
The Cannes AirShow brings together the leading protagonists in general and business aviation to allow a demanding clientele discovery of the latest developments and industry innovations in a geographically logical and appealing setting. This professional exhibition is designed for owners and pilots, whether passionate fans or professionals, in general and business aviation throughout Europe, Africa, and Russia — offering visitors a large and representative palette of the aeronautics industry. The Cannes AirShow is southern Europe's leading exhibition in general and business aviation. Click here for details and registration info.
What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Weekback to top 

Click for more photos
One of the interesting side stories of the Eclipse Aviation debacle was the courting of Russia, including then-President Vladimir Putin, as a manufacturing base and major customer. Although the VLJ heyday has passed there are apparently Eclipse 500s still in Russia and you'll find them in the oddest places. Eclipse 500 serial number 09, registered to a Delaware trustee, is there and was last spotted on a truck in downtown St. Petersburg. According to Russian media, it was put on a flatbed for the first part of a trip to a convention center but the journey didn't go well. More...

A week after a California court ruled the FAA has pretty much absolute authority over the use of airports that have accepted money from it (in this case Santa Monica) the City Council of Naples, Fla., appears poised to test that concept. The council this week voted to continue zoning discussions on whether the local airport authority can build a runway extension at the bizjet-busy airport. The city's attorney has already told the council it's likely a waste of time but councilman Sam Saad said there's a principle involved. More...


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Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

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Prop Strike? Contamination? Lightning 
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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

The FAA probably spent a fair amount of staff research time and money telling us what we already know: Conventional stall warning systems don't work very well, if at all, in icing. But having reviewed 25 years worth of data, they probably missed a boatload of opportunities to tell us things we really don't know about icing accidents. In the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli opines that one of these is tailplane icing. Read more and join the conversation. More...

Sport Aviation Expo 2011 had some bright spots, says resident AVweb Insider blogger Paul Bertorelli — although big sales remain elusive. And what about Piper? They say they're still committed to light sport, but they terminated their relationship with their Czech supplier and they aren't looking for a replacement. Read more and join the conversation. More...

Another MiG-29 is flying and in private hands. If money were no object, what warbird would you fly?

Plus: Last week, we asked AVweb readers if the LSA sector is fulfilling its original promise of bolstering general aviation; click through to see how they answered. More...

Thanks for JA Air Center || Vote for Us in 
the AIN FBO Survey
Thanks from Chicago's Best Arrival Option, JA Air Center!
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.
Letter of the Weekback to top 


Letter of the Week: GPS Interference

Your story about concerns over the use of personal/portable electronic devices aboard aircraft echoes my own concerns.


When permitting the use of passenger electronic devices aboard aircraft, it is imperative that we consider not only the normal operating mode of such equipment but also any likely fault modes, including operator error. Does the "flight safe" mode of a cell phone actually work as advertised? Is the wi-fi in your laptop working only on the permitted frequencies?

Furthermore, in the event of unexplained malfunctions of the aircraft avionics during a Cat-1 autoland, will there be time to make a PA call asking passengers to make sure everything is turned off? And will they listen? Just two days ago, I watched three separate flight attendants on their way to their "seats for landing" walk past a man sending text messages on his iPhone.

Mike Ellis

Click through to read the complete text of this letter — and others from our readers.


Our best stories start with you. If you've heard something 255,000 pilots might want to know about, tell us. Submit news tips via email to What have you heard? More...

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Viral Videoback to top 

A company called northStudio has created a video with Nimmo Bay Helicopter Resort that allows viewers to control the viewing angle of 360-degree panoramic pre-recorded video through a click-and-drag interface. The technology uses six cameras strapped to a custom-built rig attached to a pole that's attached to the helicopter. Proprietary video merging software then creates the "seamless flying experience." According to the company, the technology was made possible due to improvements in internet and processor speeds. In the video, the camera is slung below a helicopter as it flies down rivers, skims 10,000-year-old glaciers, hovers over waterfalls, and more, and the viewer controls the viewing direction at all times. More...

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

If it seems like David Sussman has achieved airplane ownership Nirvana, he would probably agree. AVweb spoke with him at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring about enjoying financial benefits from a light sport aircraft. More...

The Phoenix motorglider is two airplanes in one, and just about anyone can fly it, regardless of his medical status. AVweb took a tour at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring over the weekend. More...

If there aren't enough iWidgets in your life, here's one more: the iCub. It's basically a Cub clone LSA built around the network and display capabilities of an iPad and an iPhone. The iPad serves as the airplane's main navigation device, plus it also receives and tracks data from the Rotax 912 engine. At the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, AVweb talked with the company's Bill Canino, and this brief video offers a tour of the airplane. More...

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"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


According to AVweb reader Ken Knopp, our latest "FBO of the Week" is a posh destination. Heritage Aviation at Burlington International Airport (KBTV) in Burlington, Vermont "is by far the nicest FBO I have ever visited," writes Ken:

Service was top-notch. Entire staff was very friendly and provided an impeccable service. Pilot lounge included a ping pong table and Wii. Separate rooms were available for flight planning. Additional rooms included a theater, sleeping rooms, and even a gym. I could easily spend more time at this quality FBO.

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!


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

Aviation Consumer is researching an article on TKS performance in the real world and could really use your help. If you fly an aircraft equipped with a TKS system, please take just a few moments to complete this online survey. Information about how you use the system and how it performs will be kept anonymous, but the general findings will be reported in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. More...

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.

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