AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 23b

June 9, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
Aircraft Spruce at the Golden West Fly-In || June 10-12, 2011
Aircraft Spruce Is a Proud Sponsor of the
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Visit the Aircraft Spruce exhibit in Marysville, CA in booths 8 and 9 from 9:00am to 5:00pm on June 10 and 11 and from 9:00am to 4:00pm on June 12. Take advantage of some of your favorite products on sale, complimentary UPS ground shipping on most orders, and Aircraft Spruce's helpful staff to answer questions. Educational seminars on your favorite products will be held by Ryan Deck, avionics specialist. Visit the Aircraft Spruce web site for the seminar schedule and promos. Call 1 (877) 4‑SPRUCE or visit AircraftSpruce.com.
AVflash! Clearing a Path for Airplanes back to top 

FAA: Runway Incursions Dropping

The number of serious runway incursions has been dropping, the FAA said this week, and in fiscal year 2010, which ended on Sept. 30, there were just six serious incursions, half the number recorded in 2009. Overall, incursions have dropped 90 percent since fiscal year 2000. "The entire aviation community can be credited with the remarkable success achieved in runway safety," the FAA said. Since 2007, the agency has coordinated an "intense effort" to expedite the installation of new technologies at airports, conduct outreach, retrain pilots, develop better air traffic procedures, and improve airport infrastructure such as lighting, signage and markings.

A runway incursion is defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization as any unauthorized presence on a runway, regardless of whether or not an aircraft, vehicle or pedestrian presents a potential conflict to an aircraft authorized to land, take off, or taxi on a runway. Incidents are ranked in four categories determined by how narrowly a collision was avoided. The FAA has been implementing several new technologies to help minimize the risks. Red runway status lights installed in pavement help to prevent unsafe crossings at runways and taxiways. Radar-based systems provide automated alerts and warnings to controllers. Better detection technology provides controllers with a clearer picture of targets on the airport surface. Moving-map displays in the cockpit give pilots a better sense of their location on the ground. The efforts seem to be working. "Each year, runway safety continues to improve," the FAA said.

Novel Approach To Bird Conflicts

Bird strikes are a perennial problem for aviators, but in Santa Barbara, Calif., airport managers found that improving bird habitat near the airport actually helped prevent bird-aircraft conflicts. Workers reconfigured a 10-acre wetland area to restore tidal flows. They found that the new habitat attracted small shorebirds such as sandpipers, which tend to fly in low numbers close to the ground and rarely head inland across the runways. In contrast, the unrestored area had provided only seasonal standing ponds, which attracted migratory waterfowl such as Canada geese and mallards, which often flew across the runways. The habitat change has reduced the number of wildlife strikes, the airport said, enhancing both aviation safety and environmental preservation.

The project was a win-win for Santa Barbara, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told Miller-McCune. However, he said the agency doesn't see that airport's success as a template for others. "It's a good project for Santa Barbara," he said. "A similar project at another coastal airport could have the exact opposite effect." At least one other airport has shown interest in trying the new strategy -- the Naval Air Station at nearby Point Megu, where bird strikes are a recurring problem.

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U.S. Navy's Centennial of Flight back to top 

100 Years Of Naval Aviation Celebrated This Summer

All summer long, events around the country will honor the 100th anniversary of the start of naval aviation. The centennial marks the U.S. Navy's first purchase of an aircraft, a Curtiss seaplane, in 1911. Celebrations will take place this month during Marine Week in St. Louis and at the Rhode Island Air National Guard Air Show; in July, events are set for Rochester, Detroit, and Seattle, as well as EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh; and in August and September, events are planned for North Dakota, San Diego, Memphis, and more. Details for all events are listed at the Centennial of Naval Aviation web site.

Along with the Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and NASA are participating in the commemoration. The Blue Angels' appearance at a June 11-12 event in Evansville, Ind., has been cancelled, but the Navy has not yet released the team's schedule for the rest of the summer. Several appearances have been scrubbed since the team's commanding officer stepped down after flying a lower-than-normal maneuver in May.

Recently, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli spoke with photographer Erik Hildebrandt about a book he produced for the centennial; click here to view the video report.

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Look, Ma — No Hands! back to top 

Students Develop Brain-Wave-Controlled Flight Simulator

A team of engineering students at Northeastern University in Boston have developed a system that allows a pilot to operate a flight simulator with brain waves. The pilot exerts control of a simulated airplane by looking at specific points on an array of LEDs mounted on Plexiglas in front of a television screen. "Typically, a pilot has a joystick and a throttle and those allow him or her to do a myriad of things," said Mike Nedoroscik, the team leader. "We were able to identify the absolute essential controls and write them into the software. We've been able to achieve up to eight commands, which allowed us to fly the plane and do a couple of flight maneuvers." The project has drawn interest from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and inspired a team at Honeywell Inc. to pursue similar research, according to the university.

Nedoroscik and a team of five students worked on the project for two semesters, supervised by engineering professor Waleed Meleis and Deniz Erdogmus, a brain-computer interface expert. Using an open-source flight simulator called FlightGear, the group designed a system that can distinguish between eight commands at a rate of two seconds per command, achieving accurate results about 80 percent of the time. Erdogmus gave the group access to his equipment, which allows a user to control computers or robots with signals from different parts of the body.

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.
Delta's Military Baggage Brouhaha back to top 

Delta Upsets Returning Soldiers

Delta Air Lines worked to rebound from negative publicity Wednesday after soldiers returning from Afghanistan aboard a Delta flight appeared in a YouTube video explaining they were charged $200 each by the airline for carrying extra bags. Part of the problem appears to be that the soldiers understood their travel orders to mean they were authorized to check up to four bags free of charge. The airline says active military are allowed to check three bags free of charge while flying in coach. The soldiers say the airline collected a total of at least $2,800 from the 34 soldiers on the flight. Delta later offered an apology.

Click here to hear the soldiers explain the problem as they perceived it at the time, in their own words. (MP3)

Note: AVweb has edited the audio to remove the names of the soldiers involved.

"In the case of today's situation, we would like to publicly apologize to those service men and women for any miscommunication regarding our current policies as well as any inconvenience we may have caused," a Delta spokeswoman said on a company blog. The airline "will be reaching out" to the soldiers to personally address their concerns and will "work to correct any issues they have faced," the spokesperson said. Stars and Stripes quoted a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) who said, "We know this is a business issue and that the troops will be reimbursed if they are authorized additional baggage in their orders, but the shock of even being charged is enough to make most servicemen and women simply shake their heads and wonder who or what it is they are protecting."

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A Clear Vision for the Future back to top 

Dynamic Glare Reduction Science

Inventor Chris Mullin, with help from the Air Force, is developing smart sunglasses that identify the brightest spots in a wearer's field of view, dynamically darken that specific area, and follow the light source, leaving the rest of the view less affected.  The glasses work by putting liquid crystal displays in the lenses themselves. That technology is coupled with a pinhole camera sensor and programming built into the frame. Together they identify glare and react by applying more sun filtering to the LCD in that area of the lens, even as the wearer turns his or her head. In practice, wearers see a dark non-opaque spot hovering over the sun, or any other source of glare that exceeds a programmed threshold. The prototype is still relatively bulky and may challenge popular fashion sense, but the concept has earned attention (and funding) from the Air Force.

Both the Air Force and Army have subsidized inventor Chris Mullin's efforts through annual six-figure Small Business Innovation Research contracts that he's won for the past six years. The military initially pushed the design toward darker lenses, but when they asked for clear lens options, Mullin recognized other potential markets. The glasses currently use batteries, but Mullin imagines one day offering solar-powered units. The inventor estimates that he's about $5 million away from an initial run of 24,000 consumer glasses he says he could have built in about one year. He estimates the initial product could hit the market at a retail price close to $500. If the technology is met with demand, Mullin believes the cost of the technology could drop, allowing prices to fall closer to $200/pair.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

GA Groups Challenge BARR Change

The Transportation Department's recent decision to dismantle the BARR (Block Aircraft Registration Request) program, which allows aircraft operators to block identifying data from public flight-tracking systems, now faces a legal challenge from general aviation advocacy groups. NBAA, AOPA, and EAA said on Monday they will seek an injunction to prevent the DOT decision from taking effect and will ask the courts to invalidate the new policy altogether. "The DOT ... appears to have simply ignored the thousands of individuals and companies that voiced their strong and principled opposition to this change," said NBAA President Ed Bolen.

Bolen said the BARR decision is "an alarming development" with implications that extend well beyond aviation. "This is the first time an agency has claimed the public's interest in 'open government' requires public dissemination to anyone with an Internet connection of wholly personal and private information simply because it happens to be in the government's possession." Bolen said BARR retains widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. "Unfortunately, the Administration's sudden, unilateral decision to curtail the program forces us to look to the courts for help in preserving the privacy, competitiveness and security of Americans and American companies while Congress reviews the program," Bolen said.

Bizjet Use Rises Sharply

Business aircraft traffic is now within 10 percent of the April 2008 peak and while that's good news for some parts of the industry, the manufacturing side is still in the doldrums in many sectors. USA Today quoted JSSI CEO Lou Seno as saying flight hours took a big jump in the first quarter of the year. He said the 1,300 customers for whom JSSI manages aircraft, on average, flew 11.4 percent more hours and the trend continued into April, which saw a 7-percent increase over March. "We are not back to late '07, early '08 levels, but we're really off the bottom of where we were," says Lou Seno, president and CEO of JSSI. "In the fall of 2008, following the decline of the financial markets … flying literally fell off the charts, and because of the economy and everything else, it has been slow to recover. But the recovery we're seeing has been encouraging." While bizjet owners are using their aircraft more, most are still not in a buying mood.

The latest report from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association showed business jets were among the weakest categories for deliveries in the first quarter compared to 2010, which was hardly a banner year. Most analysts believe the manufacturers have another tough year ahead of them before there's enough confidence among business leaders to start updating their equipment and the glut of used aircraft currently on the market gets back to normal. "It appears that people are getting back to doing business and out using their airplanes for the purpose which (they're) … meant to be used," Seno said. "For guys who have to go out and make it happen, the only way to do it is in a corporate airplane, where you can get in and make five stops in one day."

GA Groups Lobby For Kinder TFRs

Aviation advocates working with the TSA last year made progress in lessening the impact of TFRs on Hawaii's airport businesses during a presidential visit, and now six GA groups are asking the TSA to loosen its grip nationwide. In a letter (PDF) to TSA Administrator John Pistole, the groups ask for procedures that would allow general aviation operations at near-normal levels while still addressing the security measures necessary to protect the president. Plans already in place at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport allow GA aircraft to share the airspace with the president, the groups said, and those procedures could be implemented elsewhere.

The impact of TFRs as they are currently imposed is not inconsequential. "For instance, a fixed base operator at Chicago's Midway Airport loses an average of $60,000 in revenue daily when the president visits the Chicago area," says the letter. "Also, helicopter air tour operators In Hawaii and Las Vegas experience losses in excess of $150,000 during each presidential visit." Presidential TFRs typically stop or severely limit GA operations at airports within a 30-nm radius of the president's location, causing serious financial consequences for GA operators while allowing commercial airline flights to continue. The letter was signed by the leaders of NBAA, AOPA, EAA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International and the National Air Transportation Association.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

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.

Add AVwebBiz to your AVweb subscriptions today by clicking here and choosing "Update E-mail Subscriptions."

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

Question of the Week: Loosening Temporary Flight Restrictions

Aviation groups are lobbying to allow much easier GA access to VIP-inspired TFRs. Is that a good idea?

Should security around TFRs be loosened up?
(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.)

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: LOTOT and the Impossible Turn

One reason so many people die in stall-related accidents may be that we don't have good training doctrine to detect and respond to loss of power incidents on takeoffs. And we persist in the notion that turning back to the runway is never a good idea. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli offers a different viewpoint.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Fatal Accident Reduction — No Easy Task

Paul Bertorelli's been looking at the numbers from a single year of GA accident fatalities —— and he shares his findings on the AVweb Insider blog. When you look at the numbers, says Paul, it's not easy to see any low-hanging fruit because there isn't any. Stall-related accidents still kill the most pilots every year, but plain, unimaginative loss of control is a close second. And don't even get him started on the bad judgment calls.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Eastman Aviation's CH750 Video Review

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

There are only a few LSAs that qualify for true STOL status, and Eastman's CH750 is one of them. With full-span flaperons and leading-edge slats, it won't win any beauty contests, but it could excel at some short landing contests. In this video, Aviation Consumer editor Paul Bertorelli takes a spin with Eastman's Gary Webster.

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

Video: Tribute to Amanda Franklin

Recommend a Video | VOTW Archive

A nice video tribute to Amanda Franklin, who died a week ago, was posted shortly after her death. Franklin died May 27 from complications of burns suffered in a March 12 crash while she was doing her wingwalking routine with husband Kyle flying their Waco biplane. Donations are still being accepted to help the Franklin family in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.
Originally posted to YouTube by Cindy Monohan/cinziava

Don't forget to send us links to any interesting videos you find out there. If you're impressed by it, there's a good chance other AVweb readers will be too. And if we use a video you recommend on AVweb, we'll send out an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you."

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Flightline of Dothan (KDHN, Dothan, AL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Flightline of Dothan at KDHN in Dothan, Alabama.

AVweb reader Bill Johnson testified to the FBO's stellar service, from big things all the way down to the small:

On a recent business trip to Dothan, I had need of some ramp maintenance for my C310D. Thank goodness I had chosen Flightline of Dothan as my arrival point. Don Smith and his staff were friendly, very helpful and went way out of their way to take care of my immediate needs. When it became apparent that my requirement was beyond his local resources, rather than direct me to his other maintenance facility, Don contacted another facility on the field and made arrangments for them to help me. In today's cut-throat world, it is a rare pleasure to see cooperation and collaboration at this level with the customer's need always put first. If your travels ever take you to Dothan, please make certain to stop in at Flightline of Dothan. You will be glad you did. The people are the best, service is excellent, facilities are great, and the popcorn is perfect.

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 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Elliot Hamilton of Buckner, MO. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.

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.