AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 21a

May 23, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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The Bottom Line back to top 
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Bill Would Kill Maine Plane Tax

Maine legislators are expected to pass a bill (PDF) that will eliminate a so-called use tax on aircraft purchased outside the state but used within it for more than 20 days in the first year after the purchase. Although the current law affects relatively few aircraft, publicity surrounding a few cases of enforcement and attention from AOPA have led to a subtle but detectable boycott of Maine by some private aircraft owners. That, and the creation of an aviation business park and executive airport at the former NAS Brunswick, have focused attention on the tax and prompted bills proposed by state Senate President Kevin Raye and Sen. Stan Gerzofsky that have been merged into the current document. Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), the body charged with enticing business and traffic to the new airport, told the Times Record the bill should help rid the state of its anti-GA perception. "There's a black mark on Maine in the pilot community, that really causes us problems. It's pretty unsettling when investors and people who own property here have got to land their aircraft in New Hampshire and rent a car to drive up to their homes or businesses. It's really hurting us from an economic development perspective."

Among those who have been lobbying to eliminate the tax is Kestrel Aircraft President Alan Klapmeier. Kestrel is the first aircraft manufacturer to set up at Brunswick. The use tax was established in 2001 and applies to a variety of goods to try to prevent people from buying items that are non-taxable in other states and bringing them back to Maine. Its application to aircraft came to light with the case of Steve Kahn, a Massachusetts resident who was assessed more than $25,000 on his Cirrus SR22. Kahn, with help from AOPA, fought the tax and won his case. In other cases, however, the tax has been upheld.

The Long Road To Reauthorization

An amendment that some said was stalling progress of the long-awaited FAA reauthorization bill has been withdrawn. Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster's amendment passed the House by a narrow margin on April 1 and would have required the FAA to conduct studies and analyze the possible impact of rulemaking with "a mandate that regulations are based on sound science; an assessment of its economic impact; and a reasoned cost benefit analysis," Shuster said in announcing the amendment. He also said the amendment wasn't aimed at any rule in particular but opponents suggested it was targeted at new crew rest rules proposed by the FAA last year in response to the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Buffalo in 2009, in which crew fatigue was implicated as a factor. Shuster said Friday his amendment was getting in the way of the broader goal of achieving stable funding for the FAA. "It is apparent that the inclusion of my amendment in the FAA bill may slow down conference negotiations and delay the adoption of this critical legislation to dramatically reform and streamline Federal Aviation Administration programs, modernize the nation's aviation system, and spark much needed job-creation through aviation infrastructure improvements," he said. Shuster's move removes one potential roadblock but FAA reauthorization still faces significant legislative hurdles.

Next week the House and Senate will consider a 19th 90-day funding extension for the agency, but because it's a continuation of the reauthorization that expired in 2007, there's no new funding for high-priority programs like NextGen. However, it's another amendment only tenuously related to aviation that is causing the most problems with passage of the bill. The amendment, which is in the House version of the bill and not the Senate's, would make it easier for employees to organize. Also, the Senate version of the bill is a two-year measure worth $34.5 billion while the House wants a four-year $59 billion package.

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Aviation Safety back to top 
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NTSB: FAA Medical Oversight "Inadequate"

A 61-year-old helicopter pilot who suffered a stroke in 2006 should have received more attention form the FAA, the NTSB said, before an emergency took place on Dec. 29, because the same pilot couldn't move his arm. The emergency flight took place at night during an emergency medical services trip on a twin-engine Eurocopter. No patients were on board. After suffering the in-flight stroke, the pilot called a controller and requested vectors to a nearby airport. He then failed to recognize the runway and overflew the airport. With more vectors, and the aid of a flight nurse on the flight controls, the pilot managed a hard landing that caused the aircraft $220,000 in damage. The NTSB noted a contributing factor in that accident: "The Federal Aviation Administration's inadequate oversight of the pilot's known medical condition."

The FAA evaluates the medical condition of pilots on a case-by-case basis and FAA medical examiners work with the information provided by the airmen themselves. In this case, that combination allowed the stroke-pilot to fly again without any formal evaluation of the risk of a recurrent stroke. The NTSB found that the pilot's records show no definitive cause had been identified as the cause of the pilot's previous stroke. It found that the pilot had a family history of stroke and that the pilot was increasingly obese. It also found that the pilot's physician had discontinued medication "in part to reduce the pilot's risk of a future stroke." On the accident flight, the NTSB found that the pilot had suffered a "sudden onset of right hand weakness and slurred speech" while at the controls. A subsequent MRI found evidence of two recent strokes. The pilot had received his Class 2 medical four months prior.

FAA NPRM: Airbus Rudder Pedal Inputs

On Nov. 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in Queens, N.Y., killing all 260 on board, plus five on the ground, and now an FAA NPRM aims to address one of the accident's causal factors -- over the next four years. The NTSB found that Flight 587, an Airbus A300 out of JFK for Santo Domingo, had lost its vertical tail in flight, due in part to pilot control inputs, before the aircraft fell out of control. Data suggests the first officer managed to overload the vertical tail with rudder pedal inputs of less than 2.5 inches. The proposed Airworthiness Directive (AD) would incorporate a design change to prevent excessive rudder movement that could lead to overload and failure of the vertical stabilizer. Affected aircraft include about 215 jets, all of which are models of the Airbus A300 and A310. Compliance is required within 48 months after the effective date of the AD. Comments are due by July 5.

According to the NTSB, loss of the tail was due in part to pilot inputs made during a wake turbulence encounter that began at about 2,300 feet during initial climb. According to the flight's data recorder, the pilot had made rudder inputs of no more than 2.4 inches, but had cycled inputs between the left and right rudder pedals. The NTSB found (PDF) that the aircraft's rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program were contributing factors. Evaluation of the accident prompted a series of safety actions from the FAA. In October 2010, the FAA published "An International Survey of Transport Airplane Pilots' Experiences and Perspectives of Lateral/Directional Control Events and Rudder Issues in Transport Airplanes (Rudder Survey)" (PDF). The proposed AD stipulates that "there are no service instructions to address this unsafe condition." One option under consideration is a modification to the rudder control system called the pedal travel limiter unit.

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Situational Awareness back to top 

GPS Advisory Covers Huge Area Of Southwest

A huge area of the U.S. Southwest is under an flight advisory (PDF) warning of potentially unreliable GPS performance as unspecified "GPS testing" is carried out in the area of Truth or Consequences, N.M., from May 27-Jul. 1. It's not immediately clear if the advisory is related to LightSquared's ongoing program to test for interference resulting from its 4G broadband transmitters. As we reported last week, a LightSquared test program began in Boulder City, Nev., May 16 and continues to May 27 and the FAA warned that GPS disruptions might occur within a 330-nm circle around the test transmitter. Above FL 400, the area covered by the latest advisory will cover a circle 640-nm across centered 19 nm from the BVS VOR on the 230.5 radial.

The size of the affected area diminishes at lower altitudes but even at 50 feet AGL, the donut hole is 310 nm across. The flight advisory includes the proposed times for the tests but they are subject to change and anyone flying in that area and planning to use their GPS should be checking NOTAMs immediately prior to their flights.

Again, AVweb would be interested in hearing from pilots who think their GPS is affected by the test. Send your observations to editor@avweb.com.

RC Pilot Blamed For Collision With Biplane

The NTSB blames the operator of a large RC model for its highly publicized collision with a full-size biplane at a fly-in in Colorado last Aug. 14. In its final report, the board says the RC operator flew the model outside the area designated for RC operations at Brighton Van-Aire Estates Airport before it was struck by the SA 750 Acroduster homebuilt. The NTSB described the biplane's maneuver as a go-around but video shows it was done at high speed and low altitude with airshow smoke on. An earlier report by the FAA says the biplane pilot reported he turned his smoke on to increase his visibility while he did the go-around. The biplane's lower wing was damaged but the pilot was able to land safely. The RC model was destroyed. The NTSB said the model was getting out of a vertical prop thrust hover when it strayed over the active runway and outside the RC box, but it suggested organizers of the show shared some responsibility for the incident.

The report says the organizer of the event briefed the RC pilots before the show and warned them to stay east of the active runway but it questions whether the separation between the two zones was policed effectively. "While the event coordinator was monitoring the radio for traffic, it was not clearly communicated who, if anyone, was providing spotter duties for the radio controlled airplane operator prior to the collision," the report said.

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Aero ... Shale? back to top 

Drawing Jet A From A Stone

Shell is betting $19 billion that it can pull natural gas from shale rocks and then convert that gas into diesel fuels, including a Jet A product for aircraft. A facility the company is building in Qatar will reportedly become the world's largest gas-to-liquid plant and could establish technology that would be used on a smaller scale in the U.S. The U.S. has become one of the largest in the world producers of natural gas through the development of shale fields. And the abundance of natural gas derived from those efforts has helped drive down the cost of natural gas versus oil. The price gap could mean that even with costs added through processing, liquid fuel products derived from natural gas would be competitive or even a favorable alternative when compared with traditional oil. But Shell may be looking for something else, too.

In an interview in London, Marvin Odum, who heads Shell in the Americas, said that the gas-to-liquid technology could be used on a smaller scale in the U.S., if capital costs can be reduced, BusinessWeek.com reported. That comment may refer to technological advances that would reduce costs, but also sounds similar to language used by companies seeking federal monetary assistance. The Energy Information Administration's Annual Energy Outlook (large PDF) predicts that shale gas will make up 47 percent of total U.S. production by 2035. In its natural form, natural gas offers low energy density and high transportation costs. But Shell believes that through conversion natural gas can offer high-quality products that will be competitive in the transportation fuels market. For more, see Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis (large PDF).

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

United Airlines' Inadvertent 9/11 References

The advertisement for United Airlines reads "You're going to like where we land." Unfortunately, it was placed above the entrance to a subway stop at Cortlandt Street, in New York City -- with Ground Zero as the backdrop. For those who need reminding, it was United Airlines Flight 175 that struck the south tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Truth be told, United may be significantly removed from the decisions that led to the placement of the advertisement at that precise location. The sign was approved by New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), but the MTA's logo isn't part of the message; United's is. Enough New Yorkers managed to recognize the unfortunate placement that United and the MTA heard about it and the third-party vendor responsible for placing the ad at that location was contacted to take the ad down. That wasn't the only 9/11-related "error" for which United earned attention last week.

United apologized Wednesday after it mistakenly applied the retired flight numbers 175 and 93 to future flights operated under a code-share agreement by Continental. United had taken those numbers off its lists after Flight 175 was lost in the south tower of the World Trade Center and Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 2001. Airline spokesman Rahsaan Johnson explained the matter saying, "We did not make a decision to use those flight numbers. The error was technical." And it was immediately corrected by removing the numbers from the system. The numbers did not appear on departure/arrival monitors, at gates or on screens at airport check-in counters, but may have appeared on travel websites before being changed.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Sky King, Where Are You?

International Learn to Fly Day reaches out to the general population and provides plenty of information on aviation — but inspiration is a lot harder to come by. On the AVweb Insider blog, Mary Grady wonders what fills the adventure-shaped hole in the heart of today's prospective pilots.

Read more and join the conversation.

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.

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

AVmail: May 23, 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: Gender Shift Explained

Regarding the story "Gender Shift In Aviation": There's an explanation in the footnotes.

In the tables published by the FAA in 2010, I did take notice of the big jump in the total number of women pilots from 36,808 in 2009 to 42,218 in 2010. When I noticed that most of the increase was driven by a 74% increase of women student pilots, I was even more excited.

As we celebrated the Centennial of Women Pilots in 2010 and the first annual Women of Aviation Worldwide Week in 2011, I, along with many women and men in the U.S. and around the world, spent countless volunteer hours raising awareness and introducing girls and women to aviation to try to change the historical trends. Could it be that our cumulative effort had such a positive effect?

However, as one of 5,580 women pilots holding ATP certificates in 2010 (just 3.9% of all ATP certificates), I have been well trained to always read the small notes, and they clearly explain that the jump in number of student pilot certificates is due to the change in duration of the student pilot certificate from 24 months to 60 months.

There is no doubt that the participation of women is increasing in commercial flying, from 3.1% of the ATP pilot population in 2000 (4,411 out of 141,596) to 3.9% in 2010 (5,580 out of 142,198) and from 4.76% of the commercial pilot population in 2000 (5,807 out of 121,858) to 6.6% in 2010 (8,175 out of 123,705). But let's not lose sight that in 1980, more than 30 years ago, the female pilot population in the U.S. totaled 52,902 (6.4% of the pilot population). In 2009, before the numbers were skewed by the change of the student pilot certificate validity period, women pilots totaled 36,808 (6.2% of the pilot population). There has been no real change in trends in the last 30 years. Much has yet to be done to change that reality.

Some claim that women will never constitute 50% of the aviation population for various reasons. 100 years ago, similar claims were made when only 5% of car drivers were women. However, today, a little over 50% of the people holding a driver's license are women.

Just as the illusion of safety in GA recently discussed in AVweb is believed to hamper the popularity of aviation among the general population, I believe that the illusion of significant progress in terms of the participation of women could deter the much-needed industry effort to encourage more women to participate.

Mireille Goyer

Feathering Is a Real Drag — Or Not

Your story on the SpaceShipTwo drop test with "feathering" repeats something I've seen a lot and that I think is erroneous — an assertion that the Rutan design's re-entry mode is slow because of drag created by the rotated tail section.

Specifically, you said that on reentry, the ship is "...descending, almost vertically, at around 15,500 feet per minute, slowed by the powerful shuttlecock-like drag created by the raised tail section." I think it's pretty clear that the drag is caused by the flat belly of the ship in the relative wind and that the rotated or "feathered" tail section just stabilizes the ship in that belly-first position.

A shuttlecock, by comparison, does get its drag from its tailfeathers. Your description would be accurate if it said "raised tail configuration" instead of "raised tail section."

Daniel Barnes

Diamond vs. Canada

While I don't know the particulars of the situation with Diamond, government funding is critical to aircraft manufacturers, especially during vulnerable stages such as start-up of a new company or a new project.

As an electric aircraft start-up owner, I can vouch that having government support is essential. These economic times are shaky, and getting a good deal out of the private sector is difficult and risky at the same time. Just look at Cirrus.

Stephan Boutenko

Government support should be considered if the company can make a reasonable business case and there is a reasonable chance of paying back the loan.

Jim Bowen

No, no, no. General Motors should not have gotten a bail-out, either — nor should taxpayers' money be used for sports stadiums. If you can't survive in aviation manufacturing, maybe you need to be in another business.

John Douglas

It would be interesting to speculate whether Diamond would have been successful in securing the federal government loan had the factory been located in the province of Quebec.

Ian Moody

In Canada, it seems there is nothing a Quebec-based business wants that will be denied by the federal government. Bombardier has been the recipient of massive loans and outright government subsidies since it entered the aviation business. This is bribery paid to Quebec to buy loyalty from its citizens.

Diamond doesn't get this treatment as a foreign-owned company, despite the fact that it is a solid employer of Canadians and brings superb technical expertise to the Canadian aviation market. It is fundamentally unfair that Bombardier has benefited from Canadian government largesse while Diamond is potentially allowed to lie fallow.

Bob Kisin

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

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 

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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.

Related Content:

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

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

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Cox Aviation (Big Sandy Regional Airport/K22, Prestonsburg, KY)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Cox Aviation at Big Sandy Regional Airport (K22) in Prestonsburg, Kentucky.

AVweb reader Linda Langrill had no shortage of good things to say about this FBO she discovered on the way to Sun 'n Fun this year:

We got stuck in weather on our way down to Sun 'n Fun ... . The best thing that happened was that the nearest airport to our location was the Big Sandy Regional Airport (K22) at Prestonsburg, KY. We were greeted by FBO manager Gary Cox with a friendly smile and efficient, friendly service. The official airport kitty, Saltine, greeted us out on the ramp. The lobby of the FBO had just been remodeled, complete with a gas log fireplace, newly tiled restrooms, well-equipped flight planning room, and (most of all) friendly people everywhere we went. The restaurant adjacent to the FBO, the Cloud 9 Cafe, is worth flying or driving in to experience. ... Lauren, Mr. Cox's daughter, operates the restaurant. We ate there twice during our two-day stay in Prestonsburg, and on Sunday afternoon we had to wait in line. Well worth the wait. We have recommended this airport and FBO to every pilot we talk with. If you are on your way south or north, east or west, and if you get anywhere near this airport, plan to stop. You will not be sorry!

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 Flight back to top 

Short Final

Here's one I heard just a week or so ago from the non-fed tower at my home base, Johnson County Executive Airport (KOJC) in Olathe, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City):

"Cessna 1234, you are clear to land runway 18."

"Clear to land 18 — and thanks for the help today."

"You bet. We do good work when we're awake!"

Johnny Rowlands
owner, KC Copters
pilot/reporter, KMBC-TV Kansas City's NewsChopper9
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.)

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