AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 7a

February 14, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! FAA Funding on the Chopping Block? back to top 
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House Aims To Cut FAA Funding

The House of Representatives and the Senate are both considering legislation that would roll back funding of the FAA to 2008 levels, but still provide funding toward NextGen, according to a Reuters report, Friday. Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John Mica, said in a statement that the proposal "increases the efficiency and effectiveness of our aviation programs." The plan reportedly seeks to cut $4 billion out of the FAA's funding through cost savings found in programs that the FAA will be asked to identify and that do not impact safety. FAA administrator Randy Babbitt said the cuts would further slow the deployment of NextGen. And, as worded, the House version could have a large impact on small airports.

NextGen is currently consuming about $1 billion per year and that spending had been expected to continue through 2018. While the proposed funding cuts may be controversial, the legislation also includes another provision that's almost sure to earn some enemies. The House proposal would kill the Essential Air Service program. That program subsidizes air services at more than 100 smaller airports -- and any proposal that cuts it is not expected to pass through the Senate.

FAA Bills Protects Fence Agreements

Given the advance press on President Obama's budget and the bizarre legislative history of the FAA's current reauthorization process, it's far too soon to predict how it will all turn out but some groups see hope their specific issues will be addressed by the final bill. Among them is the small but organized effort to protect through-the-fence agreements, which allow access to airports by those who have hangar homes on adjacent privately-owned property. Dr. Brent Blue, organizer of ThroughTheFence.org said identical language in both the House and Senate versions of the bill would protect existing agreements and allow future deals between airports and adjacent residential property owners.

Blue said the versions of the bill he saw before the weekend included the line that the FAA from determining an airport is "in violation of a grant assurance…solely because the sponsor enters into an agreement that grants to a person that owns residential real property to adjacent to the airport access to the airfield…." The FAA decided last year to try to eliminate through-the-fence deals by tying them to federal grants. Blue fought the FAA first but found support at the legislative level with Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) who added the language to their respective bills.

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So What Do You Think of the Flight Design C4? back to top 

Flight Design's Four Seater

Manufacturer of the successful CT series of Light Sport aircraft, Flight Design has confirmed its upcoming C4 four-seat aircraft but says the final design will be decided with input from dealers, customers and ... you. The company will be rolling out a full-size proof-of-concept model at Aero 2011, which will be held this year April 13-16, in Germany. Attendees will be able to contribute their thoughts at the event. For the rest of the world, Flight Design is creating an online survey where it will accept opinions regarding design features of C4. The survey is linked here, but will not be online until March (save the page). The company's engineers will work with the information and hope to freeze the design by Sun 'n Fun 2012. The company plans to certify the C4 and is also working on full type certificates for its CTLS and MC. Meanwhile, Flight Design's has other news for amphib fans.

The CTLS Floatplane earned ASTM certification on Jan. 15, and gave the aircraft its public debut in Sebring, last month. The company says the CTLS airframe required no structural changes in accepting Clamar Floats. The aircraft now does have a gear position indicator and water rudder handle, plus a split brake for maneuvering on the ground. The float version loses 15 knots to its 115-knot wheeled counterpart. Its useful load is 500 pounds. The aircraft should be available ready-to-fly for about $161,895. Those seeking to adapt their current aircraft can expect to shell out $39,900 for a set of floats and more for a prop exchange.

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FlightPrep Patent: The Latest Twists and Turns back to top 

FlightPrep/RunwayFinder Dispute Continues

The legal dispute between FlightPrep and RunwayFinder over the latter's alleged patent infringement continues to move forward but there have been a couple of twists and turns. According to the most recent post to RunwayFinder's Web site, owner Dave Parsons has filed a dismissal notice in the Oregon court where the suit was launched alleging the suit should have been filed in Washington, where FlightPrep is based. FlightPrep can fight the dismissal notice and even if it is upheld the suit can simply be relaunched in Washington. No timeline was given for that bit of legal wrangling but the lawsuit itself is considered a short-term issue. RunwayFinder has also started work on an attempt to dismantle, or significantly restrict the patent itself.

Parsons said his legal team is preparing a "reexamination request" to the U.S. Patent Office and is expecting a long process. "I'm confident their patent will be drastically reduced in scope if not completely nullified," Parsons said. "Although it may not help the immediate situation, it will improve the outlook for online flight planning in the future." Meanwhile, RunwayFinder remains offline, but another site offering an online chart service, VFRmap.com, has opened.

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A White Knuckle Landing You Can Learn From back to top 

In-Flight Cockpit Fire Survivor Jade Schiewe

On Sept. 28, 2010, a Cessna 172RG was flying at 10:38 a.m. local time over Oklahoma when the situation became life-threatening. On board were a CFI candidate and his instructor. They were about four miles out from Richard Lloyd Jones Airport, near Tulsa, and had just selected "gear down" when fire broke out behind the instrument panel. Flames quickly spread to the rug and seats and filled the cockpit with thick black smoke. Getting down safely and immediately became the instant responsibility of 28-year-old instructor Jade Schiewe, and what happened next was the result of skill, instinct and knowledge. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Schiewe about the experience that left Schiewe with second and third degree burns and a slipped disc in his back. That conversation is this week's podcast.

According to the factual report (PDF), the FAA inspector who responded to the accident "found evidence that the terminal lug on the hydraulic pump was improperly installed and had shorted," presumably when gear down was selected for the second time during the flight. The report states that installation procedures for the hydraulic power package did not specifically mention the "proper" part for use in covering the terminal lug. Schiewe hopes pilots can learn from his experience and plans to pursue positive solutions with the government, regulating bodies and other parties to address the safety conditions particular to his flight. His body is well on the mend and Schiewe tells us he was just cleared for flight this past Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011.

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The Theory and Practice of Law back to top 

Senator Inhofe's Letter From The FAA

A letter from the FAA (PDF) to Sen. James Inhofe says he has completed "remedial training" and the FAA has decided not to pursue legal enforcement action as the result of his landing on an occupied closed runway, before departing from a taxiway, last October. The FAA initiated an investigation after the 75-year-old senator landed his Cessna 340, with three others aboard, at Port Isabel-Cameron Country, Texas, on Oct. 21, 2010. The senator's then-chosen runway was marked with large Xs, and littered with a large red truck, other vehicles, and construction workers. No one was injured as a result of the incident. Inhofe has said he was offered the choice of possible legal action, or the training program, and took the second option. His training included four hours of ground instruction and three hours of flight instruction. It was provided by an instructor who had previously been a student of the senator, according to TulsaWorld.com. FAA spokesperson Sarah Johnson said the agency treated the senator as it would any other pilot. Inhofe has also had things to say.

In the days following the incident, Inhofe said, "It's unfortunate, I'm sorry, but I'm not really concerned about it." Regarding NOTAMs, he told TulsaWorld.com "people who fly a lot just don't do it." Last week, TulsaWorld reported that Inhofe "remains convinced he did nothing wrong" and "said he considers the matter closed." The letter from FAA Aviation Safety Inspector Robert J. O'Keefe seems to suggest the agency feels largely the same way. According to the letter, dated Jan. 4, 2011, the senator was advised that his actions were "contrary to Sections 91.13(a) and 91.103(a) of the Code of Federal Regulations." Those sections cover "careless or reckless" operation of aircraft and preflight responsibilities -- Inhofe was not aware of the closed runway prior to his flight. The letter says that based on "satisfactory completion of the remedial training program" legal action will not be pursued and the letter itself will be a matter of record for two years, "after which the record of this matter will be expunged."

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Balloonists Fight Olive Farm Suits

There's an undeniably California flair to a strange dispute that has pitted (sorry) an olive farmer against hot air balloonists in the state's Coachella Valley, near Palm Springs. And now the local polo club is involved. The Eldorado Polo Club is hosting a fundraiser on Feb. 27 to help pay the incidental expenses of 15 balloonists and one pest control applicator facing lawsuits from JCM Farming. A local law firm has already volunteered to represent the pilots, so the proceeds from the brunch, raffles, barbecue and, of course, tethered balloon rides will go to cover other unspecified expenses related to the litigation, according to The Desert Sun.

Last year, the olive company, which has 80 acres of olive groves surrounding a private compound, asked the FAA to do something about what it claimed were low-flying balloons (and a cropduster) over its property. The FAA didn't find any violations. The farm then filed the lawsuits against the balloonists, the FAA and the Department of Agriculture and so far it's had the desired effect. Pilots are avoiding that area. The subtext of much of the local coverage generated by the situation is the suggestion that the ranchers are doing something behind the 20-foot-high walls they don't want balloonists (and cropdusters) to see. Apparently it's not a fear of things falling from the sky that is motivating the olive company owners. They've applied to build a helipad in their compound.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Inhofe Incident — Did the FAA Cave?

Did the FAA let Sen. Jim Inhofe get away with a slap on the wrist following his landing on a closed runway? Not exactly, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog — but it could have been more aggressive.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Another Fuel Committee? How Does This Help?

The FAA has formed a new joint committee to "investigate, prioritize and summarize" issues related to finding an unleaded replacement for 100LL. But what have we been doing for the past 20 years if not re-stating, reframing and investigating the problem? There is only way this new committee can make any progress, says Paul Bertorelli in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog. But it'll take someone — not someones — with a lot of smarts, insider knowledge and leadership skill who doesn't work for the FAA. We'll see if it's possible.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Letter of the Week back to top 

AVmail: February 14, 2011

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: GPS Threat Worth Considering

In my opinion (which I believe to be fairly accurate on this subject given my 40+ years experience in electronics), the GPS interference threat posed by LightSquared's proposed network is a serious disaster in the making. Their position that a "properly filtered" GPS receiver won't suffer significant interference is technically true but ludicrous in reality. It's true that the technology exists to produce a filter that greatly attenuates signals in the frequency range they are intending to use while only marginally affecting GPS signals, but in the real world there are many big problems with that "solution."

First of all, such a filter is not trivial to build for a number of reasons, including the fact that the precision required will be costly and subject to diminished performance over time as well as temperature variation. Second, said filter will likely need to be incorporated into the active antennas used by any GPS receiver that uses a remote antenna (e.g. all panel-mounted aviation units). Third, even if said filters were installed for free in all of our airplanes, there's a very good chance that one or more of the powerful ground-based transmitters will drift out of tolerance and start leaking significant emissions inside the GPS frequency band instead of just right next to it per the design. When that happens, there will be mysterious airborne GPS outages that won't be traced to the offending transmitter until a large enough group of reports come to someone's attention who has the knowledge to suspect the real source of the problem. Meanwhile, a bunch of us GPS users willl be wasting money at the avionics shops trying to figure out what's causing the intermittent failures of our equipment.

I predict that the cost to each airplane owner with an onboard IFR GPS will be in the $500-per-unit range, and, as stated above, this only solves the issue if LightSquared's transmitters are carefully monitored continuously with an automatic shutdown in the event of any out-of-band emissions. Seems to me that LightSquared should bear the entire cost of such a retrofit, given that their waiver from the existing rule which eliminated the need for new filtering is the underlying reason for the new expense.

Lance Fisher

I read with great interest the article on the conflict between the GPS system and the proposed LightSquared 4G bandwidth utilization. At the risk of oversimplification, isn't the FAA's NextGen system reliant on the GPS network? If this capability is compromised, how can any tax increases or user fees be justified to pay for any system that relies on it? Shouldn't this conflict be resolved before any further funding of a potentially obsolete system?

David Estus

Aviation and Taxes

I've been in touch with AOPA about their neutral position on this discriminatory tax on Jet A. They seem to have ignored those of us who wish to operate equipment for personal use that are powered with Jet A, such as light turboprops or diesel. With the looming 100LL issue, these powerplants have an increasing place in the GA hangar and will be taxed unfairly as a result of this selective tax. Let all the players pay their fair share into NextGen, airlines especially. Let them use some of their baggage fees to contribute to this new system that will benefit them the most.

Larry Durner

NextGen Funding

What gripes me about this "Question of the Week" topic is the idea that while GA fuel taxes are being raised to fund NextGen, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt is cutting a check to give JetBlue millions to install ADS-B. I don't see any monetary incentive coming my way to equip my 172.

Add to that the requirement to keep the transponder after the full implementation of ADS-B. Why? Because airline TCAS equipment will become "stupid" without transponders, so we have to pay to maintain equipment for use by the airlines.

Instead, the FAA could allow us to remove the transponder and force the airlines to install a new form of TCAS based on ADS-B, requiring both 1090ES and UAT — but that would put the cost burden on the airlines, and that isn't going to happen.

Mike Werner

I would have selected "the fuel tax proposal is appropriate" or similar verbiage if offered on your survey.

Michael Christie

The government has had a free hand with mandates and taxes on aviation. This has caused the cost in real dollars to buy, maintain, and operate airplanes to double over the last 50 years. The result, predictably, is a seriously shrinking industry. This must be reversed. We are already taxed for an aviation infrastructure.

Glenn Hake

How should we pay for NextGen? I question the soundness and vision of the plan for NextGen and the additional cost to GA to participate in NextGen.

Just look at how quickly the FAA threw GA overboard by trashing Loran-C, something that worked and [that] GA could actually use. And, even worse, they threw away E-Loran, which would be much cheaper to operate [and] less susceptible to jamming than GPS, yet almost as accurate as GPS. Remember the wasteful spending the FAA made on the cure-all microwave landing system.

How about all the maintenance costs of the current VOR system? That's where they can really save money. The FAA should redirect the bloated budgets they have and save the things that work.

Donald Stephens

New Eclipse on Right Track

Your suggested answers didn't quite represent my thoughts on the deal with Sikorsky and the future of the Eclipse.

I do think the new owners are on the right track with their product fixes and pricing, and they will get a decent share of the light jet market. However, does that mean the skies are going to be filled with VLJs after all? No. Most of those kinds of predictions were based on the $850,000 price tag, which was ridiculous from the start and which only a few in the press and otherwise had the guts to say so publicly.

John Piper

A Taxing Problem

The video on bonus depreciation is laughable if you are living in Butler County, Kansas. My plane, a homebuilt Zenith 701 light sport, is appraised by the county at $22,500, and they are assessing me $900 per year in property taxes.

I am getting rid of my plane because I can't afford the taxes on a $24,000 annual retirement pension. It would be cheaper for me to rent if I had a current medical, but there are not too many light sport aircraft for rent around here. So I guess I just don't fly anymore.

Michael Sinclair

High-Priced Evacuations

Charging $26,000 to evacuate 350 miles is not something I would want to advertise as a use for general aviation. Capitalizing on the plight of expats is shameful! It equates to piracy in my book, and the spokesperson makes it sound like they are performing some altruistic activity!

Mark Brightman

Springfield's Airport

You have a great publication, and I enjoy reading every issue. Allow me, however, to offer a small correction to your story about TSA Administrator John Pistole blocking further private screeners at KSGF: The airport's name is Springfield-Branson National Airport, not "Branson Springfield Airport." Gary Cyr, our airport director, lives is Springfield (metro population over 400,000) and not 40 miles south in Branson (population about 10,000), where KBBG (Branson Airport, LLC) is located. We're proud of our airport and always appreciate being properly identified!

By the way, is it possible that TSA is a bureaucracy, which doesn't wish to see any part of it shrunk by having private industry do what they do, and do it better?

W. B. Johnson

An Eclipse In St. Petersburg ... In 2008

I remember meeting the then-representative of Eclipse Aviation, Nickolay Nikiforov, in autumn 2008, and he was just showing me the pictures of this Eclipse towed in St. Petersburg during the XII international economic forum.

Ivan Veretennikov

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

Have You Used Oil Additives? 'Aviation Consumer' Could Use Your Insight

Have you added more than oil to your engine? If you've tried oil additives like CamGuard or AVblend, Aviation Consumer wants to know how it worked out. Whether your experience was good, bad or of no consequence whatsoever, they want to know. Please take a moment to fill out their survey to help the research effort for an upcoming, in-depth review.

Click here to take the survey.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

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 Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

What's Life Like for a TSA Screener?

File Size 8.1 MB / Running Time 8:50

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It's not much fun at times, but most believe their job is important and makes a difference. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with former screener and union president Ron Moore about why we still need to take our shoes off at the airport and the importance of being nice.

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Click here to listen. (8.1 MB, 8:50)

Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Island City Flying Service (EYW, Key West, FL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Island City Flying Service at Key West International Airport (EYW) in Key West, Florida.

AVweb reader Neal Carbaugh told us how ICFS brought GA love to the airport last week:

EYW hosted their first ever Southernmost Open House & Aviation Review (SOAR) on February 5. This FBO donated fuel for the last remaining B-25Hs still flying in the world today and an original Eastern Airlines DC-7, neither of which would have been able to be there without it and both of which were the stars of the show. Additionally, they gave up one of their four rows for static display aircraft and waived their normal overnight fee. Most of all, their ramp controller, the girls behind the counter, and their maintenance guys handled the most number of aircraft ever in a single day and did so in superb fashion with favorable comments from many! SOAR was a big success, but [it] would not have been possible without Island City Flying Service!

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!

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

Video: Is Carbon Monoxide About to Kill You?

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

Probably not, but you may still want to consider a cockpit carbon monoxide detector. In this video, AVweb and Aviation Consumer take a look at these relatively inexpensive safety gadgets. They have steadily improved in recent years, and there are more choices than ever.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Mobile (AL) Approach:
"Aircraft calling Mobile, say again."

Delta Flight:
"Delta 1234, out of 14 for ten."

"... That's a real bad radio; sounds like an old T-37 in my ear."

"Roger that."

[brief pause]

"How's this one?"

"Better. Still a lot of whining in the background."

"That's just the flight attendants."

Dan Luke
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.