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Volume 17, Number 10b
March 10, 2011
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AVflash! Pilots? Who Needs Those?back to top 

Northrop Grumman announced Wednesday that its Jan. 21 flight of an autonomous Global Hawk and a manned Proteus test aircraft sets the stage for autonomous aerial refueling between two unmanned aircraft. The two aircraft flew as close as 40 feet apart at 45,000 feet, which Northrop says sets an industry record. The flight studied wake turbulence effects, engine performance, and flight control responsiveness at altitude. Northrop is working toward a spring 2012 flight that would demonstrate autonomous aerial refueling of two Global Hawks as part of the company's KQ-X program. According to Northrop, that program may be just the tip of the spear. "When you add autonomous flight of both aircraft into the mix, as we will do later in the KQ-X program, you gain a capability that has mission applications far beyond just aerial refueling," said program manager Geoffry Sommer. More...

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End of an Era — And This Time, It's No Overstatementback to top 

click for photos and video
The Space Shuttle Discovery has flown 39 missions (the most of any shuttle), traveled 148 million miles and carried 246 crew members over 27 years in service and after landing Wednesday, it started a long journey to retirement, most likely at the Smithsonian. Discovery landed Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida following the 13-day mission dubbed STS-133. The vehicle first launched on Aug. 30, 1984, and has now spent a total of 365 days in space. It will next undergo a months-long process of decommissioning that will make it safe for transport and storage at its expected final destination, the Smithsonian Institute's Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center. (An official announcement is scheduled for April 12.) A number of museums (possibly as many as 29) are hoping to win one of the remaining two shuttles and some have mounted major investments in support of the cause. Acquisition will come with a cost. (Click through for an image gallery of dramatic Discovery moments and a video of its final landing.) More...

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AVIC, Cirrus, and Uncle Samback to top 

Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters told The Wall Street Journal this week he expects the deal to sell Cirrus Aircraft to a Chinese firm will pass a national-security review by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment. The two companies sought the review as a pre-emptive move, to avoid becoming "a political football," Wouters told the WSJ. Wouters said he expects the deal will be approved because Cirrus isn't a high-tech firm with national security-sensitive trade secrets. AVIC, the state-owned parent company of China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., has come under scrutiny in the past for bidding on U.S. defense contracts, the WSJ said. Besides its general aviation interests, AVIC also manufactures a stealth jet fighter. More...

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Young Eagles: Doing the Homeworkback to top 

EAA says its Young Eagles program, which aims to introduce youngsters to general aviation, has been successful at inspiring those youngsters to become pilots. By checking FAA's pilot registry against its list of Young Eagles going back to 1992, EAA said it found that Young Eagles are 5.4 times more likely to become a pilot than those who never participated. "The numbers show that Young Eagles is making an impact on the pilot population that is unmatched by any other single program," said EAA Chairman Tom Poberezny. The EAA analysis also showed that 9 percent of those pilots are female, a gain of 50 percent compared to the overall figure of 6 percent of the pilot population. More... || We're All New!
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News Briefsback to top 

A TBD Devastator war plane that was lost at sea in 1941 has been located off the coast of San Diego, and a Florida museum plans to raise it from the bottom. Capt. Ed Ellis (USN, retd.), head of aircraft restorations for the National Museum of Naval Aviation, in Pensacola, told EAA the Devastator is "the 'holy grail' in terms of naval aviation, and something we'd like to have in this museum." Many of the Devastator bombers were lost in World War II, and today there are none on display. About $300,000 must be raised to move ahead with the recovery. The location of the wreck has been known for about 15 years by A&T Recovery, of Chicago, which has recovered more than 30 airplanes for the museum, mostly from Lake Michigan. The A&T team recently released underwater video of the wreck, which shows parts of the cockpit and fuselage. More...

Justin "Jack" Cox, known for his work as a writer and editor for EAA's Sport Aviation magazine and his own Sportsman Pilot quarterly, died on Sunday at a hospital near his home in Asheboro, N.C. He was 77 years old. Cox worked for EAA from 1970 until his retirement in 1999, serving as editor-in-chief of publications as well as a frequent contributor to Sport Aviation. Cox and his wife, Golda, who also worked for EAA, flew together to many aviation events around the U.S., conducting interviews and writing articles. In 1981, the couple began publishing Sportsman Pilot, a quarterly aviation magazine, which they continued until this year. More...

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Weekback to top 

The FAA recently changed its bank of test questions without notice, causing a spike of up to four times the usual rate of failures in recent weeks, according to the National Association of Flight Instructors. The content of test questions was significantly altered, NAFI said, for at least three tests -- the fundamentals of instruction test, which is required for all flight and ground instructors, and the ATP and flight engineer tests. "We fully support the FAA's efforts to improve the quality of the knowledge tests," said NAFI executive director Jason Blair. "However, we're concerned that the test changes were made without any notification to the industry." As a result, he said, the applicants who failed have wasted their time and money -- up to $150 -- and must re-take the tests. More...

The next generation of the Corvalis single-engine piston airplane will be introduced later this month at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., Cessna said on Tuesday. The turbocharged Corvalis TT currently in production was originally developed by Lancair as the Columbia 400, and taken over by Cessna a few years ago. It can fly at speeds up to 235 knots, which makes it the world's fastest fixed-gear single-engine piston aircraft. Cessna sold 110 copies of the Corvalis TT in 2008, which fell to 41 in 2009 and just 7 last year, as the general aviation market slowed overall. Details about the new version of the airplane will be announced on March 29, Cessna said, and a mock-up will be on display. More...


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

The FAA has mixed it up a bit with the written test. How would you do if you had to write right now?

Plus: Last week, we asked what AVIC's purchase of Cirrus (and similar Chinese acquisitions of U.S. aerospace companies) means for American manufacturing; click through to see how AVweb readers answered. More...

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...

AVbuys || AVweb Stories About Great 
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

Kevin Bredenbeck took the Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator to 250 knots and beyond last September. He spoke with AVweb about the aircraft, the program, and what it's like to go that fast in a helicopter in this interview at the 2011 HAI Heli-Expo in Orlando, Florida. More...

Bell Helicopters bypassed the usual military procurement procedure and adapted a 407 for "law enforcement and paramilitary" use. With a 3,000-round-per-minute machine gun, a rocket launcher and FLIR, it's a potent adaptation of a proven airframe that's already attracting attention. More...

Facing ever-growing global competition, Cessna has to find way to make airplanes more efficiently. In this video, Terry Clark explains how the company has done that at the company's Independence, Kansas plant. More...

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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

Cirrus' sale to Chinese interests wasn't especially shocking — but after visiting the Cessna plant in Kansas, Paul Bertorelli wonders if Cessna might go the same way. Anything is possible in the global economy, says Paul in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog. Read more and join the conversation. More...

The sale of Cirrus Aircraft to a Chinese state-owned company didn't have to happen. Americans could have bought it. In the latest installment of the AVweb Insider blog, our editor-in-chief ponders the obvious question: If Americans are so worried about jobs and industry floating away to China, why won't American investors sink their dollars into a company like Cirrus? Read more and join the conversation. More...

Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

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Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon is bound for North Bend, Oregon, where Coos Aviation at Southwest Oregon Regional Airport (KOTH) has impressed a couple of different AVweb readers in recent months. Jerry Bialoetz sums their commitment to customers up nicely:

Extemely friendy. Will go out of their way to help make your stay memorable and are not after the big bucks in your wallet, like other FBOs.

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 Photosback to top 
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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