AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 20b

May 19, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Politics, Government, and the D-Jet back to top 

Canada Denies Diamond Loan Request

Diamond Aircraft will have to find other ways to get the funding it needs, said President Peter Maurer this week, now that the Canadian government has turned down a request for a $35 million loan. The company has been working to find private investors to keep the company and its D-Jet program going while waiting for a decision from the government, but so far nothing is nailed down. The longer it takes, the harder it will be for the company to stay in its current location in London, Ontario, Maurer said. "There are some good, viable prospects out there" to provide the funding Diamond needs, Maurer told the London Free Press, but "it will take time." He said the delay also means more laid-off workers from the D-Jet program will find jobs elsewhere, making it harder to re-start when funding is secured.

Maurer also said the company is counting on the jet program to repay its existing debt obligations. "It would not be reasonable to expect that we would be able to service those debts with piston sales," he told the Financial Post. Diamond has over 200 orders for the D-Jet, which sells for $1.9 million. Industry Minister Tony Clement told the Free Press that the government had already invested $20 million in the company through a research and development fund, and felt to add another $35 million for operating expenses was not in the taxpayer interest. "We are stewards of taxpayers dollars and we have risked, quite rightly, $20 million in taxpayer dollars to date, and it is not judicious to up that by another $35 million," Clement told the Free Press. "We hope the company Diamond continues to be part of the scene in London. We do not wish for its demise." Diamond has laid off more than 200 workers, just over half its workforce, while trying to raise the money it needs.

Related Content:

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Private Tanker Crashes In California

Three crew somehow escaped serious injury when their fully loaded Boeing 707 tanker crashed and burned on takeoff from NAS Point Mugu in California late Wednesday afternoon. The airframe is obviously a writeoff. The aircraft was one of two 707-300 passenger aircraft converted to tankers owned by Omega Air Refueling, which has been contracted to the Navy and the Marines for inflight refueling for seven years. The company also has a DC-10-40 converted to a flying filling station.

The crash occurred about 5:25 p.m. on Wednesday and pictures from the scene showed the aircraft in pieces at the end of the runway and close to the ocean. The aircraft was reportedly carrying 150,000 pounds of fuel and that fed a furious fire. Details of the crew's escape will undoubtedly emerge shortly, and AVweb will keep you posted.

EAA AirVenture 2011 || July 25-31
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh:
The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration

July 25-31

It's gonna be a big year at Oshkosh. We're celebrating 100 Years of Naval Aviation all week long. Plus: Special tributes to Bob Hoover and Burt Rutan, a Monday concert by REO Speedwagon, the return of the Saturday night air show, and innovation in the air with the Electric Flight Prize competition.

For more information or to buy your tickets online and save, click here.
Aviation Safety Follow-Ups back to top 

Air France 447 Data Recovered

Investigators have successfully downloaded all the data from the flight recorders from Air France Flight 447 that were recovered two weeks ago, the French accident investigation bureau announced on Monday. The data includes two hours of cockpit voice recordings and all the information stored in the flight data recorder that monitored the systems of the Airbus A330, which crashed into the Atlantic nearly two years ago while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. The recorders were found nearly two and half miles deep. An interim report on the analysis of the data should be published sometime this summer, according to BEA, the French accident investigation bureau.

Among other questions, the cockpit audio recordings may help explain why the crew didn't choose to take a route around the storm as some other flights did (click here for an animation showing trajectories of several flights in the area), and which members of the flight crew were at the controls. AVweb's Glenn Pew recently spoke with Mike Purcell, a leader of the search crew that found Flight 447's voice and flight data recorders; click here to listen.

Airbus FDR Shows No Mechanical Malfunctions

Preliminary analysis of the flight data recorder from Air France Flight 447 has not revealed any mechanical malfunctions that would require safety recommendations for the A330 fleet, according to a notice Airbus sent to its customers this week. That notice sparked speculation in the French media that pilot error was the likely cause of the June 2009 crash, but BEA, the French accident investigation bureau, objected to such reports as "sensationalist" and premature. "At this stage of the investigation, no conclusions can be drawn," BEA said in a statement. However, BEA said analysis of the recorders is expected to be key to finding the probable cause of the accident.

"Collection of all of the information from the audio recordings and from the flight parameters now gives us a high degree of certainty that everything will be brought to light concerning this accident," BEA said. According to The Independent, investigators now believe the senior captain may not have been in the cockpit at the time of the accident, but it would be normal for him to take a rest period after flying the first leg and turning over the controls to two other pilots. The cockpit voice recorder is expected to provide insight into why the crew chose a route that took them into the center of the storm, while other flight crews in the area chose other routes. The A330 crashed while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing all 228 on board. The recorders were recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic about two weeks ago.

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The Passion to Fly Knows No Limits back to top 

Spaceship "Feather" Test A Success

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The tricky maneuver of re-entry to the atmosphere is a challenge for spacecraft, but Burt Rutan's innovative "feathering" mechanism aims to make it simple and safe -- and now Scaled Composites has successfully tested the technology on its large-scale SpaceShipTwo. The first feathering test was completed earlier this month, and this week, Virgin Galactic posted video footage of the flight (at right). "It was a really major milestone for the test-flight program," says Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides in the video. "Today we received confirmation that the basic design of the spaceship is solid." Program manager Matt Steinmetze says, "We dropped it, we folded it in half, and the airplane didn't do anything bizarre, it didn't turn upside down. It did what it was supposed to, so now we've got an entry vehicle. Now we can come back from space."

SpaceShipTwo launched from Mojave early on May 4, attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. At the controls of the spaceship were Scaled test pilots Pete Siebold and Clint Nichols. After a 45-minute climb to 51,500 feet, SS2 was released from the carrier ship and established a stable glide profile before deploying, for the first time, its "feathered" configuration by rotating the tail section of the vehicle upwards to a 65-degree angle to the fuselage. It remained in this configuration at a level pitch for about a minute while descending, almost vertically, at around 15,500 feet per minute, slowed by the powerful shuttlecock-like drag created by the raised tail section. At around 33,500 feet the pilots reconfigured the spaceship to its normal glide mode and executed a smooth runway touchdown, about 11 minutes after release. "All objectives for the flight were met," said Virgin Galactic in a news release.

Flying In China -- Illegally

In China it may not always be easy -- or legal -- to fly a general aviation aircraft, but a very small, very select group of Chinese are doing it anyway. There are an estimated 1,000 registered private aircraft in all of China. Among that group, there is a tiny subset of wealthy individuals that chooses to bypass protocol altogether. According to the New York Times, such pilots are called "black fliers" (think "black ops") for their habit of taking flight on the sly. "It's like this -- your family, your wife, won't let you go out and pick up girls. But you went out and did it anyway," Guan Hongsheng, told the Times. "Secret flying is like secret love. You do it, you don't tell people about it." How it works is easy, if imprudent, enough. But not all of the unapproved flights end without consequence.

Seeking approval for a legitimate private flight plan in China can take days. Even receiving permission to land after that flight plan has been approved can be a challenge, according to the Times. One source the paper spoke with said most clandestine flights are relatively short hops in helicopters and offered the simple example of a treetop-level flight between a mansion and a golf course. But there are complex examples that lead to more complex outcomes. "Black Flight" pilots have been the targets of UFO sightings in China, and one unapproved flight over an airport last July disrupted commercial jet traffic. Some pilots, including Guan Hongsheng, have been apprehended for their illegal flights. Penalties have so far been fines that Guan Honghsehng says he's been able to talk down from about $15,000 to about $3,000.

Gender Shift In Aviation?

The number of women pilots has increased since 2000 by 18.6 percent and the number of those with ATP certificates is up 35 percent while the number of male pilots has dropped, according to statistics updated Monday by the FAA. There were an estimated 42,218 female certificate holders in 2010, which puts the group at 6.7 percent of the total 627,588 certificated pilots recorded by the FAA. Among the ranks of Airline Transport Pilot rated certificates, women jumped from 10,218 in 2000 to 13,755 in 2010. Over the same period, the number of men holding certificates dropped nearly 1 percent and the number of men holding ATP ratings dropped about 1/2 percent. The numbers also show that the advance of women in aviation goes beyond the flight deck.

The first decade of 2000 also saw increased numbers of women in aviation-related fields like ground instruction, where their numbers rose more than 14 percent. For female dispatchers, the number rose 71 percent and the number of female flight instructors rose more than 6.5 percent. The number of aviation mechanics who are women also went up -- by 43 percent from 2000 to 2010 -- and the number of repair workers who are women increased more than 35 percent. However, if one imagines the end result as equal numbers of both men and women in aviation related jobs, then there is still a long way to go. The number of women in these fields still composes single-digit percentages of the total number of workers represented. For the complete collection of data, click through to the FAA's US Civil Airmen Statistics page.

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International Learn to Fly Day: This Saturday back to top 

Learn To Fly Day Aims To Attract New Pilots

The second annual International Learn to Fly Day, which is organized by EAA, aims to provide free introductory flights and encouragement to adults curious about aviation, with events at airports around the world. This year's event is set for Saturday, May 21, with close to 200 sites participating. Many airports and flight schools host an open house for the day, to reach out to the community and invite those who have always wanted to fly to try going up in a small airplane. Last year's inaugural event drew more than 40,000 people. Sites are easy to find via the Learn to Fly Day web site; just type in your zip code to find events near you.

"The joy, fulfillment, and sense of accomplishment of flying an aircraft is unlike anything else that one can experience," said EAA President Rod Hightower. "As we grow the next generation of aviators, International Learn to Fly Day is one day where we can make a special effort to invite and welcome those who have always dreamed of flying." The web site also offers support for those interested in hosting an event and pilots who want to offer rides. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Ron Wagner, manager of field operations for EAA, for more information about Learn to Fly Day and how pilots can participate; click here for that podcast.

Podcast: Ron Wagner of EAA on International Learn to Fly Day

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On Saturday, May 21, the second edition of Learn to Fly Day will launch at airports around the world. Ron Wagner, the manager of field relations for EAA, talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about how pilots can get involved and help introduce people to aviation.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

LightSquared GPS Interference Reported

Early field tests of the effects of LightSquared's 4G signal on GPS-dependent devices showed some disruption of service when tested by first responders in New Mexico. In a letter to federal officials (PDF) last week, Bill Range, the program director for New Mexico's 911 system, says the tests run by police and emergency medical services personnel from two counties "substantiate concerns that the LightSquared network will cause interference to GPS signals and jeopardize 911 and public safety nationwide." In the tests, first responders reported inaccuracies and failures with GPS equipment in proximity to the LightSquared towers that persisted even after the 4G signal was turned off. As we reported Monday, LightSquared began live tests from a transmitter in the Nevada desert near Boulder City.

Meanwhile, LightSquared has submitted a progress report to the FCC on the testing so far (PDF), and the technical work group overseeing the testing according to GPS World will host a webinar May 26 to discuss the highly technical report. Also, the National Business Aviation Association has announced that it has joined the Coalition to Save Our GPS. The coalition was formed in April in response to the LightSquared proposal, which will involve the construction of 40,000 transmission towers broadcasting broadband Internet signals in a frequency band adjacent to the band used by GPS satellite transmitters. The fear is that the much more powerful broadband signals will overwhelm the weak GPS signals.

Have you flown through the test area during testing (midnight to 6 a.m.)? If so, have you noticed any effect on your GPS equipment? After telling the FAA, why not drop us a line at editor@avweb.com and let us and your fellow AVweb readers know what you experienced?

Eurocopter Hybrid Hits 232 Knots

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Eurocopter has conducted full-power tests of its hybrid helicopter design and says the X3 maintained 232 knots TAS in straight and level flight for "several minutes" on May 12. The aircraft, with twin outboard propellers augmenting the conventional rotor, first flew last fall but didn't have the final-design transmission on board and was restricted to 180 knots. With all the right gears in place, the aircraft actually beat the target top speed of 220 knots and the test pilot said it provoked no grey hairs. "We were impressed by the ease at which this speed objective was attained," said test pilot Herve Jammayrac. The X3 is intended to grow into a family of aircraft that offer conventional aircraft speed with helicopter versatility. Sikorsky also has a hybrid called the X2 and it's been recognized with aviation's most coveted award.

As we reported in March, the Collier Trophy went to Sikorsky for the X2 and its record-setting 250-knot dash. Sikorsky is now working on a military version of the X2 as a close-support and attack platform.

U.S. Pilots Convicted In Brazil

The two pilots who were flying an Embraer Legacy 600 jet that collided with a Boeing 737 at 37,000 feet above the Amazon jungle in 2006 were convicted of negligence in a Brazilian court late on Monday. The judge said the pilots, Joseph Lepore and Jan Paul Paladino, failed to adequately check that their transponder was working. Federal judge Merilo Mendes gave them a four-year sentence, but then suspended it and instead required them to do four years of community service in the U.S., where they have been since shortly after the accident. The two pilots testified during the trial via video link. Mendes also suspended their pilot certificates for four years. It's not clear whether those suspensions can be enforced.

An NTSB investigation into the crash found Brazil's air traffic controllers mainly at fault, for putting the two airplanes on a collision course. A Brazilian investigation parceled out blame to both ATC and the cockpit crew. All 154 people on board the 737 died. The Legacy jet was damaged but the pilots managed to land it safely at a remote jungle airfield. A lawyer for the pilots said he would appeal the ruling in Brazil's courts, according to the Associated Press. A lawyer representing the families of those who died also said he would appeal, to seek prison time for the pilots.

AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with New York Times columnist Joe Sharkey, who was onboard the Legacy at the time of the collision, in 2007; click here for that podcast. Editorial director Paul Bertorelli expressed his opinion of Brazil's 2008 investigation that blamed the Legacy pilots; click here for that blog post.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Brazil's Black Eye — Criminalizing Pilots

This week, a Brazilian court convicted two American pilots in absentia for being negligent in the 2006 midair collision between the Embraer Legacy they were flying and a GOL 737, which crashed, killing all aboard. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli says this verdict serves no one and only does harm to Brazil's reputation in the world of aviation.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVbuys || AVweb Stories About Great Deals in Aviation
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

Question of the Week: How Much Help Should Aviation Companies Get from Government?

Canada just turned down Diamond Aircraft's request for a $35 million repayable loan. Was it the right decision?

How much help should aviation companies get from government?
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

Want to see the current breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.

What's On Your Mind?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

NOTE: This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments. (Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.)

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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 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 

Video: 100 Years of Naval Aviation — Erik Hildebrandt's 'Fly Navy'

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

No one does aviation quite like the Navy, and carriers are only half of the story. In this vodcast, author/photographer Erik Hildebrandt talks about his experiences in shooting and compiling an impressive history of a century of naval aviation.

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Video: Simulator Training for GA with 'IFR' Magazine

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

Come ride along on some simulator training in a Cirrus SR22 to see the kinds of things you can do better in the box than in the real world. We'll also give you some tips for getting the most out of your simulator time.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Aircraft Services of New England (Minuteman Air Field, 6B6, Stow, MA)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Aircraft Services of New England at Minuteman Air Field (6B6) in Stow, Massachusetts.

We often hear about great FBOs that readers discover during a trip, but AVweb reader Paul MacMelville reminded us how your local FBO can come through in a pinch and save the day when you're busy attending to other matters:

I had flown from Oscoda, Michigan to Minuteman Air Field in Stow, Massachusetts to visit my mother in the hospital before heading down to Virginia to attend my daughter's Air Force retirement ceremony. On Friday, we had a heavy wet snowstorm, and, needing to leave on Sunday, I decided to go out to the airport Saturday to check on the airplane and field conditions. The heavy snow had pulled the tail of my plane down to the ground where it froze overnight, and when it thawed in the morning the fiberglass tailcone stayed stuck to the ground, tearing out the screw holes in the fiberglass as the snow melted and the nose came back to earth. I brought the tailcone into [FBO owner] Bob Booth's shop and asked for help. He not only repaired the cone but reinstalled it on the aircraft while I was back at the hospital with my mother. He called and left a message on my cell phone telling me the bird was ready to go and there was no charge! He saved my trip!

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 
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.

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