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Volume 17, Number 19a
May 9, 2011
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AVflash! Unraveling the Mysteries of AF447back to top 

The other news of last Sunday, May 1, 2011, included the discovery of a debris field that later led to recovery of Air France Flight 447's cockpit and voice data recorders, and we now know more about how they did it. The Airbus A330 that was Flight 447 was lost with all 228 aboard, in 14,000 feet of ocean, hundreds of miles off the coast of Brazil, on June 1, 2009. When that field was temporarily reduced last year to focus on an area of 770 square miles, it still represented an expanse almost 21.5 trillion times the size of one of the flight's recorders. Mike Purcell, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was chief of sea search operations for the mission that ultimately found the recorders. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with him Thursday; click here to listen to that podcast. More...

The Airbus A330 that was Air France Flight 447 was lost with all 228 aboard on June 1, 2009 in 14,000 feet of ocean hundreds of miles off the coast of Brazil. In the end, searchers went looking in a 5,000 nautical mile mountainous area 14,000 feet below the surface of the ocean and found an object that's about one square foot big. AVweb's Glenn Pew talks with Mike Purcell of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Purcell was chief of sea search operations for the mission that this May found and led to the retrieval of the aircraft's critical voice and flight data recorders.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation. More...

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Instructors Gather in Atlanta for SAFE Symposiumback to top 

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said Thursday that FAA budget cuts may endanger both the agency's ability to oversee "the world's safest aviation system" and may in fact stunt the very economic growth austere budgets are designed to create. Speaking at the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators symposium in Atlanta, Babbitt said safety oversight isn't the only concern. "I'm not going to put safety in a backseat to anything, but then what we do with the other programs? I have said it publicly and I have said it privately, if you reduce these funding levels far enough, we're on the edge of degrading our ability to maintain the world's safest aviation system. We're on the edge of choking the certification of new products. We have a finite number of people and if we furlough several thousand of them, we're not going to be able to bring new products to market," Babbitt said. He added that the agency oversees certification of more than 2200 projects a year and cutting staff will reduce its capacity to do that, creating a cascading economic effect that will cost the industry and the economy jobs. He said the FAA has submitted a "very reasonable" budget, but that the House of Representatives may be looking for more significant cuts. More...

The all-purpose, idealistic answer is to start over, according to the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, which met this week in Atlanta in the first-of-its-kind symposium to improve the quality and delivery of flight education. The practical answer, however, is a lot more complicated than that, according to the recommendations made by individual committees within the SAFE group. Altogether, about 150 flight instructors, examiners and industry educators and vendors attended the symposium and after a day of rapid-fire presentations, the symposium divided into break-out groups to make specific recommendations. More than 20 specific changes were recommended, ranging from improvements in training doctrine, higher standards for instructor refresher courses, better guidance for flight reviews, scenario-based risk management training and a closer look at how simulators of various types might be put to better use in training new pilots and keeping existing certificate holders sharper and safer. More...

AVweb's Paul Bertorelli spoke with various figures in aviation safety at the gathering. We have three of those short conversations for you as podcasts:

Cannes AirShow || 9-11 June 2011 || The 
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Meanwhile, Security Is an Issue for the Airlines, Tooback to top 

A Delta Air Lines flight from Detroit to San Diego was diverted to Albuquerque Sunday morning due to a "possible security threat." Photos from the scene showed the aircraft parked in a remote area of the airport with passengers standing outside the aircraft and buses arriving to take them elsewhere. FlightAware listed the flight as "diverted" and estimated its landing time in Albuquerque as 9:54 a.m. local time. The plane was searched, the 107 passengers and crew were questioned and the plane was cleared for flight about three hours later. It did not take off immediately, however. Authorities declined to discuss the nature of the alleged threat. The aircraft is a Boeing 737-800. Although there has been no suggestion so far that there is a connection, it was a Delta Air Lines regional carrier that was involved in an incident earlier this week in which two Muslim imams were removed from a flight by the captain. More...

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The Taxman Cometh ... for Airplane Ownersback to top 

St. Louis County, Mo.'s tax department is targeting aircraft owners in an enforcement campaign aimed at collecting what may be millions of dollars in back property taxes. "We intend to recoup revenue that was owed to this county and has not been paid," Jake Zimmerman, the county's newly-elected tax assessor, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Zimmerman became the county's first elected tax assessor in more than 50 years last month (bureaucrats handled the job in that time) and he's spending a lot of time determining which aircraft owners owe what. It's estimated there are about 700 aircraft based at the county's two main GA airports, Spirit of St. Louis and Creve Coeur. In the spirit of tax assessors everywhere, Zimmerman says it's up to the aircraft owners to prove they've paid the appropriate taxes and if they don't agree with the assessment he comes up it will be up to them to appeal. One of the issues is that since Missouri doesn't register aircraft, taxes on them are "self-reported" by the owners. Zimmerman is now using a variety of methods, including FlightAware data, to determine who owes what. As we reported in March, Sen. Claire McCaskill faced a $290,000 bill for back taxes on the Pilatus PC-12 she and her husband own and the Post-Dispatch reported that she suggested at the time that there were plenty of others who had missed paying the tax. More...

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As One Door Closes, Another One Opensback to top 

Stars And Stripes reported Friday that all 137 F-22 Raptors have been grounded over concerns about the aircraft's oxygen system that may stem in part from a November fatal crash in Alaska. Following the November crash, the stealthy fighter jet has been restricted to altitudes of 25,000 and below. Officials say the restriction is due to recent reports of oxygen system malfunctions and concerns that pilots could be deprived of oxygen during flight at altitude, causing them to black out. At this time it is not clear how long the jets will be offline because currently there is no solution to the problem. The move has been called "temporary." Air Force officials are using the time to investigate potential sources of oxygen system malfunctions on the fighters. Critics of the jet are using the time for other purposes. More...

Space Adventures pioneered the program that has to date launched eight private individuals into orbital space flight and now they're looking to expand their offerings to include trips around the moon by 2015. The company says it has already sold one of two seats available for the flight. It would use a Soyuz-TMA spacecraft with modifications that include the addition of a second habitation module. That module would rendezvous with the spacecraft in low-Earth orbit. Space Adventures has forecast the number of passengers it might help carry into orbital space by 2020 and that number might be larger than you think. More... || Intelligent Apps for 
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Putting a 747 Through Her Pacesback to top 

What happens when you slam on the brakes on a fully loaded Boeing 747-8 at 200 mph with the brake pads worn to bare metal? Not much, it turns out, and that's a good thing. Boeing has released an interesting video of an example of the kind of torture their test planes go through. In this case, the occasion was a worst-case-scenario, maximum-performance rejected takeoff. More...

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Skywritingsback to top 

This month, AVweb begins serializing a new memoir by Richard Taylor, who learned to fly in the U.S. Air Force just after the Korean War and continued to fly for 47 years. More...

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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

But also a significant challenge. Whether you believe GA's mediocre accident rate impacts student starts or not, the fact remains: It's worth the effort to try to reduce fatal accidents. It can probably be done, but in the latest installment of our AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli argues that it will take recommendations with teeth and/or some financial incentives. Read more and join the conversation. More...

When Jack Pelton "retired" on May 2, the aviation industry lost a powerful advocate and visionary. In his post to the AVweb Insider blog, AVweb editor-in-chief Russ Niles explains why Pelton may not stay gone long — and speculates on the difference of vision that may have led to his sudden departure. Read more and join the conversation. More...

Could ultralights be the gateway drug for the next generation of pilots? AVweb editor Mary Grady thinks so, and she explains how a pilot video on YouTube reinforced that notion in her latest post to the AVweb Insider blog. Read more and join the conversation. More...

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

AVMAIL: MAY 9, 2011

Letter of the Week: Cost Killing GA, Not Instruction

I listened to your discussion; however, you and AOPA are totally ignoring one of the biggest impediments to GA, namely the cost. The cost of GA has increased unbelievably in the last several years, and with the pressure on people from the other economic problems, something has to give. The answer touted for years was going to be the LSA class of aircraft, but they have turned out to be a joke. The cost/benefit for that class is a joke.

Fuel costs are unbelievable and climbing faster than a speeding bullet. I know people who would love to become pilots, but the answer is the same: They can't afford it. I will agree that there are some flight schools and some flight instructors that are not good GA ambassadors, but when you find that, you simply go somewhere else. Cost is the real problem, and I think you already know it.

Jim Wright

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


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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...

Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Isn't it time to initiate a digital marketing program with AVweb that will deliver traffic and orders directly to your web site? Discover several new and highly successful marketing options to use in lieu of static print or banner campaigns. Click now for details.
Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


It's been a busy week, but apparently a good one for AVweb readers who've spent some time in the air. We've received a hefty number of "FBO of the Week" recommendations in the last seven days and will be saving a couple of our favorite stories for future installments.

In the meantime, today's blue ribbon goes to Corporate Aircraft at Fresno Yosemite International Airport (KFAT) in Fresno, California, where Ray Stratton was treated like a VIP (a Volunteer and Important Pilot):

FAT is a common hand-off airport for Angel Flight missions from NorCal to SoCal. I had the SoCal mission as flight 2 of 2. I called Corporate Aircraft and asked if they would waive the ramp fee for both Angel Flight aircraft, both Ce182s. I told them I would not be getting fuel. They waived the fees, loaned me a crew car to get lunch, and cleaned my windshield of the swarm of bugs I found at 3,000 feet on approach. Imagine the service if I'd bought fuel!

Corporate Aircraft is my stop from now on when going to NorCal. They support the good deeds of the pilot community.

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 Lighter Side of Flightback to top 


We were holding short at Newark Liberty airport when the previous 737 called the tower shortly after it lifted off from Newark's notoriously bumpy runway.

Continental Airliner:
"Tower, this is Continental XXXX. Do you have time for a runway report?"

Newark Tower:
"Yeah. Go ahead."

"Tell the Port Authority on this take-off, about 2,500 feet down the runway, we encountered a smooth spot."

Newark Tower:
[dead silence]

M. D. Larson
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.