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For more than 25 years, operators have relied on the Caravan models to meet the most demanding mission parameters. To which the Caravan replies, "Bring it on." Its confidence is
backed by a remarkable dispatch reliability rate of over 99 percent and exceptional payload capabilities from its 675-horsepower engine. And when you consider the versatility, configurability, and
sheer ruggedness of the Caravan line, the applications are virtually limitless.
LightSquared says the GPS industry should pay to shield its devices from interference its proposed network of wireless internet transmitters might cause. On Thursday, the company launched a
counteroffensive in the increasingly acrimonious battle over the bandwidth it hopes to use for the nationwide wireless network of 40,000 towers. The GPS industry says tests prove the broadband network
will disrupt GPS signals and is urging authorities to reject LightSquared's proposal. LightSquared released an economic impact study (PDF) done by the Brattle Group last week suggesting the GPS industry has been and continues to be heavily subsidized in that the timing signals used in their
devices are owned, operated and maintained by the federal government through the Department of Defense. Its line of logic goes on to suggest that GPS manufacturers should be willing to invest the
money to shield their devices from the interference generated by the LightSquared signals. In fact, in a news release (PDF) accompanying the report, the Brattle Group suggests that it's the GPS devices that are infringing on LightSquared's bandwidth by not being adequately shielded.
"Fixing this problem through the deployment of better filters in GPS devices will add some costs to the GPS industry, but those costs would only be a fraction of the $120 billion in benefits that
would be created by LightSquared's deployment of its LTE network," the news release said. It says filters would add only 30 cents to the cost of a new GPS device but acknowledges that retrofitting
would be substantially more costly. The study was released as two congressional committees waded into the dispute last Thursday and may have prevented the FCC from approving the LightSquared
The House Appropriations Committee, with strong bipartisan support, passed a motion to insert language in a spending bill that bars the FCC from spending any money on LightSquared's proposal until
the company can unequivocally prove that GPS interference can be completely avoided. The Senate still has to pass the spending bill and the president still has to sign it for it to become law but
analysts say it would be unusual for them to get in the way of something like this. Meanwhile, the final report on interference testing, which was supposed to be completed by June 15, is now expected
July 1, after the FCC granted LightSquared a two-week extension.
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PAS 2011: Alternative Power and the City of
After several weather-related flight delays, Solar Impulse made a successful demonstration flight June 26, the last day of the Paris Air Show. The sun-powered four-engine aircraft is intended to
shine a light on green technologies. It's backed by Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss adventurer best known for circumnavigating the world in the Breitling Orbiter 3, a propane balloon, in 1999.
The aircraft has the "wingspan of an A340, with the weight of a VW Golf." Pilot André Borschberg flew the plane to Le Bourget airport from Brussels and the intention was to fly for airshow
audiences much earlier, but several windy days kept Solar Impulse grounded. Sunday morning provided the weather needed to show attendees this year's guest of honor.
What does it take to get Solar Impuse into the air? AVweb spoke with Flight Test Engineer Christoph Schlettig:
The aircraft, based in Payerne, Switzerland, has four custom-made lithium polymer batteries, each weighing around one hundred kilograms, or 220 pounds, located on linen-covered, carbon-fiber wings.
The wings themselves house solar cells that charge throughout daylight hours in order to give the plane "seven to eight hours" of battery-powered flight at night. All told, the cells cover
approximately 220 square meters, or 2,300 square feet, on top of both the wings and horizontal stabilizer of the aircraft.
As Schlettig explained, the challenge with extended battery-powered flight lies in the storage capacities of the batteries. The solar cells, on the other hand, are "perfect."
The plane stores both solar and potential energy. During flight, Solar Impulse climbs to cruising altitude, and at sundown begins a slow, gliding descent in order to provide added power to the
engines, which are the basic equivalent of "four electric screwdrivers."
During level flight, Solar Impulse has a cruising speed of a modest 23 knots, with each engine providing 10 kilowatts of power. Referring to the persistent delays in planning the demonstration
flight, Schlettig said that the plane needs "perfect weather" in order to fly. This means winds of less than five knots and sunny skies. More wind, and the super-light aircraft would be buffeted too
much to fly safely.
Schlettig said the goal of Solar Impulse is not to gain commercial interest in solar-powered aircraft, but instead to convey the message that "even today we have the means and technology to fly
around the world with solar energy." Schlettig hopes that this will encourage people to turn towards greener technologies.
Solar Impulse differs significantly from previous solar-powered aircraft, such as NASA's unmanned Helios aircraft. Schlettig said a manned aircraft presents myriad difficulties concerning weight
distribution and overall design considerations. "In order to have a pilot, you need a fuselage." Instead of the single-wing design, Solar Impulse must incorporate all the requisites of manned flight,
including controls and instruments, but also high-altitude survival gear. Helios is "a hell of a lot easier than what we did," Schlettig said.
Among the technological demonstrators being shown at the Paris Air Show, is the DA36 E-Star -- a two-seat, low-wing motorglider powered by a serial hybrid electric drive. The aircraft, a modified
Diamond HK36 Super Diamona, first flew June 8. It was developed by Siemens, EADS and Diamond Aircraft of Austria with a goal of reducing fuel consumption and emissions by 25 percent. It carries a
serial hybrid drive that turns the aircraft's prop with a Siemens 70kW electric motor. An onboard 40-hp Wankel rotary engine provided by Austro Engine serves as a generator (only) and kicks in to keep
the batteries, provided by EADS, fed. There are no specific plans for the drivetrain ... but there are general ones.
The DA36 was designed specifically to be as fuel efficient as possible while working with an established airframe (a modified Diamond HK36 Super Dimona). Because the electric motor can be the only
one running for takeoff and climb, the system can significantly lower an aircraft's noise signature during that phase of flight. The pilot benefits from lower vibration and noise in all phases of
flight. That, plus the reduced emissions, makes the design a particularly good neighbor to noise and environmentally conservative areas. The companies that created the DA36 expect the system to be
upgradable as technology improves the weight and capacity of batteries and electric motors. They say that while they have no immediate plans for the system, they expect the new drivetrain to be used
in larger aircraft at some time in the future.
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Some airlines have installed wi-fi, and others are putting iPads in the cockpit, but a recent report and
real-world incident reports suggest interference from portable electronic devices (PEDs) is real and potentially dangerous. Is it? AVweb's Glenn Pew recently spoke with Dave Carson, who co-chaired a federal advisory committee on portable electronic devices in aviation, to better understand the threat. The
committee was originally asked to create a list of safe and unsafe devices, but it quickly resolved that the task wouldn't be that simple.
The concern is simple enough. Flight crews have reported incidents of ILS needle anomalies, GPS signal loss and interference on an audio channel that have been attributed to interference from PEDs.
The reality is complicated. According to Carson, real-world incidents have "never" been repeated in subsequent attempts to re-create the problem. So, all reported incidents are considered anecdotal.
In the end, Carson's committee helped provide technical guidance for aircraft operators and aircraft design for PED tolerance. And his experience helps clarify the challenges faced by pilots when PEDs are introduced
in airline and private airplane cockpits.
Meet the New Reletex Anti-Motion Sickness Device!
It's finally here Reletex, the new version of the highly-touted ReliefBand that is so effective for nausea and vomiting due to motion sickness. Worn on the wrist, the Reletex
produces a small neuromodulating current which stops peristaltic waves in the stomach, ceasing nausea and vomiting without drugs or side effects. Reletex is available in 60- and 150-hour
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Detroit-area airports are putting their surplus lands where their fuel nozzles are to try to boost the alternative fuels movement. The airport authority has turned over three acres of land to
Michigan State University to grow canola and oriental mustard seed, two feedstocks for biofuel in a $476,000 state-funded project to see if all those 1,700 acres of neatly mown infields, overruns and
other open space at Wayne County Airport and Willow Run Airport can be put to better use. If the trial is successful, the concept is that the feedstock from all the airport lands will be processed
onsite and dropped into the airports' fuel tanks to supplement the regular fossil fuel supply. "How does aviation protect itself in the future against the depletion of fossil fuels and the uncertainty
of foreign sources of energy?" WCAA Interim CEO Genelle Allen wondered in a news release. "Part of the answer may be to grow it."
The first step is to see how the plants do at the airport and assess their fuel potential and that's what the three-acre test plot will determine. Assuming canola and oriental mustard seed do what
they normally do, the result could be a biofuel production hub that not only harnesses the airport lands but puts highway rights of ways and other vacant lands to use and perhaps entices neighboring
farmers to switch to the biofuel crops.
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Two loaded airliners nearly collided on Runway 22R at JFK on June 20 and while an accident did not take place, the event produced more than just some interesting audio. The incident involved a
loaded Egyptair Boeing 777-300 fueled for Cairo and a Munich-bound Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 with 286 on board. When the Egyptair jet missed its turn, the two jets were rolling toward each other on
the active runway as the Lufthansa accelerated for takeoff. Audio of the event includes comments from pilots of nearby aircraft. They include, "Yeah. That was quite a show ... thought it was going to
be a short career."
The German jet was on the runway accelerating for takeoff when the Egyptian crew missed their taxiway and turned onto the runway ahead of the German airliner. Controllers immediately told the
Lufthansa Airbus to "cancel" the takeoff, which called on the jet's pilots to stop the jet, and its 10 hours of fuel, as quickly as possible. Controllers explain by saying, "There's a ... as you see
what's going on. No need to speak about it on frequency." The jet did successfully stop, and another voice on frequency is heard saying, "... those two were comin' together." Once secure, the
Lufthansa pilots expressed concern that "maybe we have hot brakes now, so, maybe we take a minute... ." The German plane was allowed to taxi off the runway at its discretion. Its brakes were inspected
to determine if they had overheated or suffered other damage and the aircraft departed an hour and a half later. The Egyptair jet, which had been taxiing for departure when it missed its turn, was
released about an hour after the event. Controllers asked the crew to call to report a "possible pilot deviation" upon landing in Cairo, and provided a phone number.
Canada's Transportation Safety Board says drunk passengers aboard a short charter flight off the country's West Coast likely caused the crash of a float-equipped Cessna 185 in May of 2010. In its
report the TSB postulates that a rear-seat passenger pushed the pilot's seat forward with
his or her feet and held him and the control column pinned to the panel until the Atleo Air Services aircraft dove at a 45-degree angle into ocean off Ahousat, an isolated community on the west coast
of Vancouver Island. "It is likely that passenger interference caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft whereupon it descended in a steep nose-down attitude until it struck the water," the
report says. "It is possible the passengers' level of intoxication contributed to their inability to recognize the gravity of the situation and stop the interference in time for the pilot to regain
control of the aircraft before impact." The board also noted that the pilot could have refused the charter if he thought the passengers might be drunk enough to be a safety hazard.
The passengers, all young residents of Ahousat, chartered the plane to fly six minutes to nearby Tofino where they bought a case of beer and several bottles of liquor. They took the plane because a
local water taxi operator refused to take them because it has a policy against transporting liquor to the community. The TSB noted the seatback in the aircraft does not have a locking mechanism but it
did not offer any recommendations in releasing the report.
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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: Food First
There's been so much hype about biofuels, which are a technology that cannot at present make even a dent in our fossil fuel usage and put enormous pressure on both the ecosystem and food prices.
It's time to inject a dose of realism by demonstrating the scale of the issue, so here are some facts and figures, all of which are freely available.
The numbers around biofuels are easy to calculate and clearly show that they are not a replacement for fossil fuels. Let's look at jet fuel in the U.S. to start. Biological jet fuel comes mostly
from oilseeds like canola, peanuts, and soy, as well as other plants like palm and coconut. Although palm and coconut have higher yields per acre than oilseeds, they cannot be grown in quantity in
the U.S., so this example will use canola, which has the highest yield of oil seed crops at 102 gallons per acre.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation, the U.S. uses about 13 billion gallons of jet fuel per year, and at 102 gallons per acre that means we would use about 130,000,000 acres of cropland
to supply jet fuel from biological sources. The U.S. has 406,000,000 acres of cropland, so it would take a whopping 31% of all U.S. cropland to supply jet fuel needs alone. In 2007, the U.S. used 44
billion gallons of diesel, which uses the same feedstock plants as jet fuel, so, using the same yield figures, that would take 431,000,000 acres of cropland and that's 106% of U.S.
So, supplying jet and diesel fuels from domestic farming in the U.S. would take 37% more cropland than the U.S. has, and that's before we even touch gasoline and avgas use, which, by the way, is
136 billion gallons per year. Since ethanol only has 80% of the energy density of gasoline, we will need to grow enough corn for 170 billion gallons of ethanol to replace gasoline. Corn yields 390
gallons of ethanol per acre, so we will need 436,000,000 acres of land to grow enough ethanol to replace gasoline, which is 107% of U.S. cropland.
In other words, we would need two-and-a-half times more cropland than we actually have to grow enough biomass to replace our transportation fuel use. Even if we turned over every single acre of
cropland we have to biofuel production, we would only supply 40% of our transportation fuel needs, and we wouldn't have anything to eat!
The ecological concerns of biofuel productions are worth mentioning as well. Indications are that the U.S. is already overfarming available land, and the results are topsoil loss and, more
critically in many areas, water resources are becoming exhausted. This means that in the mid-to-long-term, the U.S. will have to farm less, not more, to be sustainable.
If we push biofuels as a solution to fuel imports, we will drive up our food prices dramatically and also reduce the surplus food that is used to help feed the world's hungry. As the world's
population continues to grow, there will be more and more pressure on farming to keep food on the table, and I am not willing to have kids starve so I can have supposedly "green" fuel!
I'm not anti-biofuels. There should be a place for them in our fuel economy; however, we need to do so in such a way that they will not take food from hungry mouths and drive up food prices. Like
it or not, the reality of the situation is that we will be putting fossil fuels in our airplanes for a good while yet until substantial research and development produce viable green energy solutions.
Food first, fuel second!
"Pilot's Case May Help Define Privacy Act" A Clarification from Titular Pilot Stanmore Cooper
On June 22, AVwebpublished a story by contributing editor Glenn Pew about my
civil lawsuit against the FAA, DOT, and Social Security Administration for violating the Privacy Act of 1974. I wish to thank AVweb and Glenn Pew for affording me the opportunity to clarify
some points made in the article and to provide some details that may help readers better understand the circumstances under which I filed the civil complaint against the three government
The AVweb article unintentionally left the impression that my civil lawsuit was an appeal of the 2005 criminal case in which I was charged with falsifying FAA medical certificate
applications by failing to reveal my HIV infection and the anti-retroviral drugs I was taking for the infection. When I first moved to suppress the evidence in the criminal case because it was
obtained through a database-matching program between the FAA medical certificate database and the SSA Title 2 and Title 16 disability databases conducted in violation of the Privacy Act of 1974, the
judge in that case denied my motion, saying that my remedy for the violation was not to suppress the evidence in the criminal case, but to file a separate civil complaint against the agencies for the
violations. It is that civil case now before the Supreme Court.
After pleading guilty to a single misdemeanor and paying a $1,000 fine to resolve the criminal charges, I sought and was given permission from the FAA to undertake recertification. After a
thorough CAMI review of my medical records for the previous ten years and after taking the CogScreen-AE cognitive deficit test, I was issued a new third-class medical certificate in August 2006. I
took the private pilot written examination, oral examination, and practical (flight) test and was issued a new private pilot airman certificate on September 11, 2006.
With my new medical and airman certificates tucked in my wallet, I began searching for an attorney to represent me in filing a civil complaint against the FAA, DOT, and SSA for violating the
privacy act and was extremely fortunate to find Jim Wood and his associates at Reed Smith, LLP, who were willing to represent me pro bono. I am deeply indebted to Jim and his associates, who have
donated thousands of hours of legal work to my case. We filed our civil complaint in March 2007.
The Northern California District Court found that during Operation Safe Pilot the agencies violated the privacy act multiple times, that I had presented triable evidence that the violations were
willful and intentional, [and] that I had, in fact, suffered an "adverse effect" as a result of the violations, but, because of a circuit court split over the question of whether or not mental and
emotional distress are "actual damage" and I was not claiming pecuniary loss, the judge found for the government. I appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the three-judge
panel found unanimously that provable mental and emotional distress is "actual damage."
The government appealed the Ninth Circuit's ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, and on June 20, 2011, the Supreme Court granted the government's appeal. My own view is that if the Supreme Court
rules for the government, it will be a license for government agencies to violate the laws with impunity.
For more about the case, two articles appeared in the July 2010 issue of NTSB Bar Association News: "Operation Safe Pilot The Aftermath" is by yours truly and starts on page 13. The
second article, "Operation Safe Pilot Revisited," is by former FAA attorney Michael Dworkin, now in private practice specializing in aviation law. His article starts on page 17. The July 2010
NTSB Bar Association News may be downloaded from this link:
Another article discussing what is at stake in my case from a civil liberties point of view is in the Spring 2011 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. The article, "Damages Under the
Privacy Act: Sovereign Immunity and a Call for Legislative Reform," can be downloaded from this link:
The idea that cell phones will interfere with aircraft instrumentation seems to be the same story that
was used in hospitals for many years, in which we were told to turn off cell phones at the door because it might interfere with one of the hospital's monitors or devices.
The situations are similar. In both cases, interference could be life-threatening. In each case, the manufacturer or the equipment operator could be liable for huge legal judgments should the
equipment itself be subject to interference that the manufacturer would have known about or could have known about.
Since cell phones and wireless devices are not unusual, and since they are often on when they should not be, then the manufacturer should obviously know [of] and plan for any possible
The hospitals have abandoned their attempts to restrict cell phones. It would seem that their motive for the restriction was the high profit from in-room telephones that they relied on for extra
income. I would assume that the airline industry continues to use the same reasoning when it comes to cell phones. Why spend dollars per minute when you can just dial or text?
I thought the real reason for the restrictions were the FCC's and the cell phone companies' concerns about overloading the system as the phones changed cells as they flew over them at high
The fact that we haven't seen the problem leads me to believe it's not real.
Regarding the story about the loose-lipped Southwest pilot: The story says, "An air traffic controller in
the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center alerted all pilots on the frequency to check for a stuck microphone."
I hope publishing this does not encourage even more people to make calls to check for stuck mics. The only person that needs to know his mic is stuck cannot possibly hear the request! These calls
result in even worse blocking of the frequency and contribute nothing to fixing the problem. The only time such a call is worthwhile is after the mic has become "unstuck."
A twin-engined (geared P&W turbofan) two-pilot B-727 is the best possible replacement for the venerable old 737. It has larger belly cargo space, much better brakes, gear doors, far faster cruise
speeds, far lower clean and approach speeds (at the same weight), aft airstair for simultaneous loading, and a comfortable-sized cockpit. And Boeing already has jigs for production. The 757 was just
too big, I guess.
I enjoy AVweb's email updates but am getting a bit upset with the snide and slightly nasty way you report on most matters Airbus. A case in point is the article on the A380 interface with Embraer's building at Paris Orly. If it had been an aircraft whose type number began with a
7, it would have been unremarkable?
Do please try and be even-handed when it comes to reporting events like these and remember how the gloating from Boeing over the delays to the A380 deliveries because of its wiring problems turned
around and bit them in the ass with their B787. What goes 'round comes 'round.
Regards, Dave Wedde
Had the incident involved the 747-8i and we had the photos available, we would have run the same kind of story, Dave. We've reported extensively on Boeing's issues and will continue to do so.
Russ Niles Editor-in-Chief
This is a very good publication informative and with good subjects. Keep up the good work.
Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.
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How's that aircraft battery holding up for you? Aviation Consumer wants to hear how well your battery has served you season after season. Please take a moment to rave -- or rant -- about
it in Aviation Consumer's battery survey. The results will be part of an upcoming article in the magazine that might be just what you need to know before your next battery purchase.
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Even in Paris, the most romantic city on Earth, romance seems scarce in this harsh and angry age and yet, the wildly impractical Solar Impulse gave our editor Mary Grady a little hope that
passion (and yes, even romance) can be rekindled in the aviation world. Mary explains in her latest post to the AVweb Insider blog.
That's the best way to describe that Southwest Airlines pilot's adolescent rant with a stuck mic catching every embarrassing word. Hey, it happens. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul
Bertorelli observes that the lesson to be drawn is that what's said in the cockpit doesn't necessarily stay in the cockpit.
If that tornado at Sun 'n Fun in April didn't get your attention, it should have. With EAA AirVenture looming and storms hammering the midwest, it's time to think about portable
tiedown systems for the show. In this brief video, AVweb and Aviation Consumer wring out three systems, and the walkaway winner is a product you've never heard of.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to PS Air at Eastern Iowa Airport (KCID) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
AVweb reader Edward Woodson sent us a stirring testimonial to the lengths PS Air goes for their visitors:
I was en route from 10C (Greenwood, Illinois) to GFZ (Greenfield, Iowa) and had [a] complete electrical failure. I was close to CID and landed at precisely 17:00. Upon parking, I told the line guy I
had electrical problems and needed maintenance. He ran to maintenance hangar just as they were closing. Two mechanics came over immediately and pulled the cowling off to discover field wire broken
to the alternator. They got wire and splicing and had the repair done in 15 minutes. [These guys] had me on my way in 30 minutes and refused any special thanks and were pleased to be of help
even after hours! My aircraft was a T-210, and the date was Friday night, June 17, at 5:00 PM. Great FBO.
Their professionalism and dedication to custoner service is especially noteworthy,
including the line guy who ran to get them before they left. I have visited PS Air several times, and, every time, every member of the staff exhibited the same courtesy. One one visit, the owner
drove me downtown because their courtesy car [was] not available and I had critical appointment. The customer is first at PS Air CID.
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.
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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West Mariano Rosales
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