AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 6a

February 7, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! "Can You Hear Me Now ... ?" back to top 
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4G Broadband May Jam GPS

The GPS industry is warning that a proposed broadband Internet network could effectively jam GPS signals. Further, it says it has data showing that any of the anticipated 40,000 (yes, four zeroes) transmitters can make a Garmin 430 go dark at a range of five miles. GPS World calls the proposal by LightSquared "disastrous" and warns of major problems for all kinds of GPS-reliant devices. The publication says a study (PDF) by GPS-industry stakeholders, including Garmin, determined the LightSquared network "will create a disastrous interference problem for GPS receiver operation to the point where GPS receivers will cease to operate (complete loss of fix) when in the vicinity of these transmitters." That, says the report, "will deny GPS service over vast areas of the United States." The industry told the Federal Communications Commission of the potential problem but the FCC approved the multibillion-dollar effort, which will carry 4G broadband throughout the country. In a podcast interview with AVweb, LightSquared spokesman Jeff Carlisle said the broadband system won't affect properly filtered GPS devices and his company is both mandated (by the FCC) and anxious to work with the GPS industry to identify devices that might be affected.

The issue is the carrier frequencies LightSquared intends to use. The transmitters will use the L Band 1 (1525 MHz—1559 MHz), which is right next door to where the GPS frequencies of 1559—1610 MHz work their navigation magic. The GPS industry study says a Garmin 430 starts feeling the interference at 13.76 miles and experiences a "loss of fix in open sky" at 5.3 miles. Carlisle said the researchers didn't use the same equipment it will be using on the transmitters and LightSquared is going to test GPS devices under actual conditions to determine which are actually affected. The testing should be finished by the end of June but there's no indication what might be involved in filtering the affected devices or what that might cost. There's also been no mention of the Air Force, which maintains the GPS system and relies heavily on it for a lot of its systems.

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Between Space and the Spotlight back to top 

Kelly To Command Endeavor

Astronaut Mark Kelly apparently agrees with NASA that the safest thing for the final flight of the shuttle Endeavor is for him to command the mission. Kelly announced Friday he will leave the bedside of his severely injured wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to resume training for the left seat of the mission, which is scheduled to launch April 19. Kelly told ABC's Diane Sawyer he doesn't need the air miles and his decision to command the flight is "the right thing for me to do." Giffords was shot through the head in an assassination attempt Jan. 8 in Tucson and is in rehabilitation in Houston, where Kelly will resume training. "I've flown in space three times. I don't have to do it again," Kelly said in the interview. "My number-one goal is to make sure that my crew is safe and that they can execute this mission safely."

NASA earlier suggested that Kelly was the right man for the job as long as he was able to keep his head above the clouds. "It reduces our mission risk from that perspective, if we feel he is ready to go and would be undistracted by the circumstances then we will decide on that," said Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson. "But he, he is a tough guy, as you have seen. He's got his stuff together." Kelly said he's sure Giffords would support his decision and he expects her to be well enough to attend the launch.

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The FAA and the Skies of Tomorrow back to top 

FAA Initiates Unleaded Avgas Committee

The FAA Friday announced it will form a rulemaking committee made up of industry and government members to guide the development and deployment of a new unleaded avgas. The Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee's first target is to formalize membership and initiate work activities by March 31. The FAA said it intends to have the committee produce "an industry-government framework and implementation plan intended to guide the GA community toward deployment of unleaded aviation gasoline." The goal, said FAA administrator Randy Babbitt, is to "bring together all the industry stakeholders" to achieve a drop-in replacement fuel "in a timely fashion."

According to the FAA, the group's first meeting should take place in late March or early April, after membership is finalized. Progress should result in a completed investigation "by mid-year." According to GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce, "The formation of the [group] shows that the FAA is stepping up in this role and should give owners and operators added confidence that the industry is on the right path to a solution." GAMA sees the formation of the group as critically important in moving to identify and prioritize the steps necessary to resolve the transition to unleaded avgas.

FAA To Pay For Some JetBlue ADS-B

The FAA Friday announced it will pay $4.2 million to equip up to 35 JetBlue A320s with ADS-B, allowing the airline to fly new routes and the FAA to "collect important data" and "demonstrate the benefits of NextGen." The airline will receive the equipment over the next two years. JetBlue will use it to fly a new route to the Caribbean and use of the equipment may also lead to the development of new, shorter routes from Boston, New York and Washington to the Caribbean. The FAA says it will observe the equipped JetBlue aircraft and conduct real-time evaluations of the system in practice on real-world revenue flights. The FAA is picking up the tab for the avionics, but the airline will pay for a few things, too.

JetBlue will pay for the cost of downtime while the avionics are installed, and fund training for dispatchers and flight crews. Some of that may be offset. The airline will also "demonstrate the cost savings of ADS-B technology," according to the FAA, and may equip the rest of its A320 fleet at its own expense." The FAA says the announcement follows President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address, "in which he stressed the importance of targeted investments to foster American innovation that will make our nation more competitive globally and strengthen our economy here at home."

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The Taxman Cometh back to top 

Excise Tax Looms In Washington State

Less than a year after a similar tax proposal was quashed, Washington State legislators have introduced (PDF) to impose a 0.5 percent annual excise tax on the value of all GA aircraft in the state. AOPA is calling on the state's pilots to mount the same sort of organized and focused campaign that killed the first tax. The bill was sponsored by 13 state representatives and AOPA members in all those districts have been sent letters urging them to buttonhole their representative and tell them what a bad idea it is. AOPA says the tax could cause "irreparable harm" to Washington's aviation industry at the cost of thousands of jobs.

The funds raised in the annual assessment are earmarked for healthcare as Washington, like many other states, grapples to make ends meet, but AOPA says it's not the way to balance a budget. "However well-intentioned the effort to find increased revenue to support healthcare and fix the budget shortfall, this excessive tax unrelated to aviation will only stymie the economic recovery by inflicting damage on an already fragile industry," AOPA says, noting the tax could ultimately lose the state money as businesses and airplanes move to avoid the burden.

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News Briefs back to top 

Hangar Collapse Damages 7 Aircraft (With Photos)

click for more photos

No one was hurt, but one man had to be rescued and six airplanes and one helicopter were damaged when the roof of a hangar collapsed under the weight of heavy snow at Norwood Airport, near Boston, Wednesday. The hangar, occupied by Swift Aviation Services, reportedly had two people in it at the time of the collapse. Employee, Ted Robinson, who had to be rescued from a corner office told the Norwood Bulletin that the event was, "a little out of the ordinary." Fire officials were called to contain leaking fuel and a ruptured gas line estimated that damage to two of the aircraft was excessive. Images appear to show the tail of a Lancair IV P suffering under the weight of debris while the helicopter next to it is nearly unrecognizable. Meanwhile, a Piper Malibu (or variant) sits nearby relatively unscathed and a prop jutting from the snow behind it suggests another outcome for a different aircraft.

Click for photos.

eBay Sale: Shell Of Harrier Jump Jet

Rescued from a scrap yard in 1997, the restored two-seat, first-generation, ex-RAF 4 SQN Harrier Jump Jet currently available on ebay.co.uk was accepting bids over $112,000, when last we checked, but if you want an engine you'll be paying more. Its current owner, 33-year-old former RAF mechanic, Chris Wilson, says the decommissioned display-worthy aircraft could be made airworthy with the addition of the appropriate Rolls Royce engine, sold separately (and not by him). That fantasy will take some work. The aircraft's front cockpit is "around 80-percent complete" (it does include a Martin Baker mk9 ejection seat) and the rear cockpit is "fairly empty," according to the listing. But the aircraft is sporting a full set of external stores, including 100-gallon drop tanks and SNEB rocket pods. "There is also a set of Aden cannon pods fitted to the belly."

The seller says he'll participate in delivery and assembly, at the buyer's expense, and has previously exported aircraft to Canada and Greece, "so shipping is not a problem." This particular aircraft, which once served in NATO cold war training exercises, has now been fully repainted and "completed to T2 specification as it entered service with 4 Squadron RAF in 1971," according to the listing. And in its current form, the aircraft may be best suited for use as a museum aircraft or promotional tool, but according to its seller, it could also become a nice "garden feature."

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Don't Let This Opportunity Pass You By!
The Lightspeed Aviation Foundation Has Extended the Deadline
For Aviation-Related Charities to Apply for 2011 Grants

Twenty charities were awarded over $100,000 in grants for 2010. Your favorite charity could be on that list this year. To fill out the application, simply go to LightspeedAviationFoundation.org.

Make sure you submit it by midnight, February 11. Once the 20 finalists are chosen, the pilot community will decide how the funds will be distributed.
Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Kelly Should Skip This Mission

NASA and Mark Kelly say the safest thing for everyone is for Kelly to command the last flight of Space Shuttle Endeavor — but with Kelly's wife Gabrielle Giffords recovering from a high-profile brain injury, AVweb Insider blogger Russ Niles isn't convinced the agency is making the right call.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: LSAs Just Cost Too Much

That's the prevailing wisdom, anyway. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli explains how years of research for Aviation Consumer have convinced him the little airplanes are priced just about right. He's clearing out space on his hard drive for your disagreements.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Brainteasers Quiz #156: What Next?


Successful aviating involves more than just doing the right thing. Aeronautical nirvana is achieved when you also know the proper sequence of events. How well you can predict the future will determine your quiz score.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

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 newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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

Will 4G Jam Your GPS?

File Size 6.9 MB / Running Time 7:30

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Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

A plan to put up 40,000 broadband transmitters across the U.S. has the GPS industry worried that interference from the signals could make popular navigation units go black. Jeff Carlisle, VP of regulatory affairs for LightSquared, the company planning the broadband network, told AVweb it's too early to know what GPS devices might be affected and that his company is committed to working with the GPS industry to mitigate the effect.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (6.9 MB, 7:30)

Video: Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Aircraft Flies

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

Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, the tailless, strike-fighter-sized unmanned system, the X-47B, under development by Northrop Grumman, completed its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California. The flying wing took off at 2:09 p.m. PST and flew for 29 minutes. The UAV climbed to an altitude of 5,000 feet, flew several racetrack-type patterns, and landed safely at 2:38 p.m. Northrop says the flight provided test data to verify and validate system software for guidance and navigation and the aerodynamic control of the tailless design. The aircraft will remain at Edwards AFB for flight envelope expansion before moving its test program to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., later in 2011. There, the system will undergo tests to validate its readiness to begin testing in the maritime and carrier environment. The X-47 is being prepared for carrier trials in 2013.

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Video: Flight Recorders Reviewed by 'Aviation Consumer'

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

Ever wish you could replay a flight and analyze what really happened? Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West reviewed three different cockpit recording systems that target three significantly different needs. Here's the video recap.

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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Kenosha Jet Center (KENW, Kenosha, Wisconsin)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Kenosha Jet Center at Kenosha Regional Airport (KENW) in Kenosha, Wisconsin — and while KJC was recemmended by a human reader, Warren Levin, we suspect the FBO is also popular with four-legged passers-through. Warren writes:

Over the last 18 months, I have done a dozen Pilots N Paws rescues and have used the assistance of Steve and Eric [at Kenosha Jet Center] to unload puppies and full-grown dogs. ... These two line personnel will meet me at the hangar and help me move the dogs to their new owners or rescue mission; they are always available to help and/or fuel. Marie, the manager, is always happy when they do assist, as she is also an animal lover.

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!

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Colin Reese Jones of Ingram, TX. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

I was flying with my friend Mike in a 200 King Air inbound to TPA. When we couldn't get three gear lights, we told the tower we would abort to work on the gear problem.

"Would you like to declare an emergency?"

"Emergency is such a harsh word."

"Understand. We'll roll out the equipment anyway, though."

(Thankfully, we landed without a problem.)

Dan Carr
via e-mail

Heard Anything Funny on the Radio?

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.

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.