AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 26b

June 30, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Reacting to the President's Address back to top 

President Obama Riles Aviation Advocates

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), AOPA and other groups responded with "deep concern" to proposed tax changes suggested by President Obama during a press conference, Wednesday. Obama said, "The tax cuts I'm proposing we get rid of are tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, tax breaks for oil companies and hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners." NATA president and CEO James Coyne responded on behalf of his members saying he "is appalled by President Barack Obama's attacks on general aviation." Other leaders of aviation advocacy groups followed suit.

AOPA responded to the president's remarks, saying it was "very disappointed" and that the president's approach "assailed businesses and individuals who use aircraft to support their business." GAMA, along with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, announced it had sent a joint letter to the president saying, "This kind of criticism has also led to the layoff of over 20,000 IAM members." Speaking on the issue, Shawn Vick, executive vice president of Hawker Beechcraft Acquisition Co., told Bloomberg News that if Obama's proposal includes lengthening depreciation on jet purchases, it "could weaken our industry when we're at a point where we're just starting to see improvement." Adding to public interest in the issue, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that "the high percentage of trips to vacation destinations in a few cases suggests some companies' jets are frequently used by executives to make personal trips." According to the Journal, "Dozens of jets operated by publicly traded corporations made 30% or more of their trips to or from resort destinations, sometimes more than 50%." The Journal has no sure way of knowing which flights are business-related. The issue of jet use and taxation has become a hot button in political debates regarding U.S. budgetary concerns.

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Air Race Classic Cut Short back to top 

Weather Shortens Air Race Classic

Every year, female aviators gather to compete in a cross-country race known as the Air Race Classic, and every year they face challenges, both predictable and unexpected. This year, continuing weather delays led organizers to shorten the course by more than 1,000 miles, chopping off the first five planned legs through Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Instead, the 43 teams launched from Alliance, Neb., setting off at noon last Tuesday. By Friday at sunset, about 8:30 p.m. local time, all of the aviators had landed safely in Mobile, Ala., after flying more than 1,200 nm with stops in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. After calculating scores based on a complex handicapping formula, Leah Hetzel and Sarah Morris, of Jacksonville University, in Florida, came in first, flying a Cirrus SR20. They were the first collegiate team ever to win the race.

The two also flew together last year, when they finished 14th. "A lot has changed since last year," Hetzel said. "[This year] we kind of knew what to do." The pair were one of 11 collegiate teams flying this year. Second place went to another college team, Alice McCormack and Justyna Kincaid of the University of Illinois, flying a Piper Arrow. "College teams came in first and second, that's another first," air race organizer Marilyn Wilson told AVweb on Monday. "Four of them finished in the top 10." One team dropped out because of the weather delays at the start, Wilson said. The annual all-woman race traces its origins to the original Women's Air Derby in 1929. Next year's race will launch from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., in June.

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End of an Era Draws Ever Closer back to top 

NASA Announces Final Flight Of Shuttle Atlantis

click for photos

The Space Shuttle Atlantis, NASA's fourth shuttle, is set to lift off on mission STS-135 on July 8, at 11:26 a.m. EDT, marking the final time a NASA space shuttle is scheduled to fly. The mission comes 30 years after the program began and is scheduled to be a 12-day mission that will deliver parts to the international space station. Atlantis will be the last of three shuttles to retire, following Discovery, which landed for the last time in March, and Endeavour, which touched down for the last time during the first hours of June 1.

Construction of Atlantis began in March of 1980. It finished in March 1985 and first flew in October of that year. Prior to its final flight, Atlantis had traveled 120,650,907 miles and had spent more than 293 days in space. It had performed 4,648 orbits on a total of 32 flights. According to NASA, "Atlantis is named after the two-masted boat that served as the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966." Atlantis pioneered Shuttle-Mir missions and when linked together with the Mir in space formed the largest spacecraft in orbit at that time. In retirement, Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Click for photos.

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 the first public showcase of the 787.

For more information or to buy your tickets online and save, click here.
Paying the Bills back to top 

Icon Secures Funding Through Production Start

Icon Aircraft, which has been working for several years to bring its amphibious A5 LSA to market, this week announced it has secured $25 million in funding, enough to complete its engineering program, set up for manufacturing, and start production. "There is a lot of work and some risk still ahead," said CEO Kirk Hawkins. "That we were able to successfully raise funds in this time of economic uncertainty demonstrates Icon's unique and compelling market appeal." The A5 team is now finishing up the last few months of flight testing, and engineers are focused on finalizing a newly designed spin-resistant wing and refining directional stability, the company said. Production start is expected in the fourth quarter of 2012.

New investors in the California company include Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google; Phil Condit, a former Boeing CEO; Satyen Patel, formerly the head of Nike in Asia, and Bart Becht, who will retire as CEO of the U.K. consumer products company Reckitt Benckiser in September. Patel and Becht have joined Icon's board of directors. Icon will receive $15 million initially, with an option for an additional $10 million. The company says it has an order book for nearly 500 aircraft, worth about $85 million. The airplane sells for about $139,000.

Record Orders At Paris Air Show

click for photos

Airbus set a record at Paris last week for the most airplanes ever sold at an airshow by any manufacturer, with 730 orders worth over $70 billion. The A320neo, which promises 15 percent less fuel burn plus more range and payload than the popular A320, led the pack with 667 orders, making it the best-selling airliner ever, Airbus said. Boeing announced orders and commitments for 142 airplanes worth $22 billion. Emerging markets played a major role in piling up sales. AirAsia, based in Malaysia, the largest low-cost airline in the Asia-Pacific region, ordered 200 of the A320neo aircraft. Airlines based in India spent about $23 billion.

"It's been a frenzy in Paris, with orders from India proving that the industry is in pretty good shape," BGC Partners senior strategist Howard Wheeldon told Reuters. "It's all part of the continuing shift in economic power from west to east." Other analysts, however, said India may not be ready to handle that much growth, citing high fuel taxes, poor infrastructure, too much debt, and high interest rates. "As of today, it seems far-fetched that they need so many aircraft, because India does not have infrastructure to handle this," Kishor Ostwal, chairman of Mumbai's CNI Research, told Reuters.

Click for photos.

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News Briefs back to top 

FAA Keeps Tower Markings "Voluntary"

The FAA received over 450 comments on its proposed guidance for marking meteorological evaluation towers that are less than 200 feet high, and last week published its final policy, which requests voluntary compliance. "Many commenters responded that marking and lighting of METs should be mandatory," the FAA said in its final rule. "It is not feasible for the FAA to maintain a national database for structures that are less than 200 feet AGL." The NTSB and the National Agricultural Aviation Association were among those who weighed in to ask the FAA to make it mandatory to mark the towers, which have been blamed for at least three fatal airplane accidents.

The towers are set up in sites where wind energy developments are under consideration, and are used to measure wind speed and direction. Many fall just below the 200-foot threshold for FAA-required obstruction markings. The new FAA policy recommends that owners should paint the towers with alternating bands of aviation orange and white paint. Owners also should place high-visibility sleeves and/or spherical markers on the guy wires, the FAA said. AOPA submitted comments noting that the towers pose a "significant hazard to many types of aeronautical operations," and supported the FAA proposal to set voluntary procedures.

Turtles Slow JFK To A Crawl

The normal fast pace of the morning push at JFK slowed to a crawl Wednesday morning as 150 love-struck turtles turned runways into expressways (in turtle terms) to love. About 6:45 a.m. pilots of outbound aircraft reported the reptilian jaywalkers (MP3), who clearly hadn't heard the tower's takeoff clearances. The controller, who kept his good humor through the episode, alternated between receiving wildlife reports, dispatching ground personnel and issuing takeoff clearances in between turtle rescues. The turtles were just doing what comes naturally and apparently the big noisy things in their way weren't going to stop them.

JFK is on Jamaica Bay and June and July is mating season for the local terrapin residents. In all, about 150 randy reptiles were rounded up and sent on their honeymoons in the more hospital ocean-front areas of the airport. It's not clear if any turtles paid the ultimate price for their ill-timed runway dashes but flights were delayed up to 30 minutes.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Cirrus Finalizes China Deal

Cirrus Aircraft and China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., Ltd. (CAIGA) announced on Tuesday that the two companies have completed their merger. "This partnership will benefit our business and our customers," said Brent Wouters, Cirrus CEO. "We share with CAIGA a vision of worldwide growth. CAIGA has the resources that will allow us to expedite our aircraft development programs and accelerate our global expansion." He said he expects the merger will make it possible for Cirrus to expand its facilities and staff in Minnesota and North Dakota. Dale Klapmeier, Cirrus co-founder, said the completion of the merger was an important milestone in the company's history, and will make it possible for the company to "continue to lead the industry in bringing increased safety, performance, and comfort to the general aviation community."

The deal caused considerable angst in the aviation community when it was announced in the spring, raising fears that the company would close down its U.S. operations and move to China. "Not gonna happen," Klapmeier said in April. A Minnesota congressman, Chip Cravaack, raised questions about the deal, citing national-security concerns. "His concerns are unfounded," Klapmeier said in April, and apparently regulators have agreed. Klapmeier also said in April that moving forward with the Vision jet project is the top priority both for Cirrus and CAIGA. In Tuesday's announcement, CIAGA President Meng Xiangkai said, "We are very impressed with Cirrus' performance in the global general aviation industry. It has a very strong record of consistent product excellence, comprehensive safety features, an outstanding management team and a highly skilled workforce who operate from advanced production facilities. We look forward to working with Cirrus' management team to build upon its success and to expand production volume to further cement Cirrus' leadership position in the global general aviation industry."

LightSquared Lining Up Customers, Coalition Attracting Support

Although the issue of interference with GPS seems to be far from resolved, LightSquared is busy lining up customers for its new broadband network. The company issued a news release Tuesday saying that voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) firm netTALK has entered into a "multi-year wholesale agreement" to buy bandwidth from LightSquared. "We are extremely excited to provide netTALK with access to the wireless broadband capabilities of the LightSquared network," said Sanjiv Ahuja, chairman and chief executive officer of LightSquared. "This agreement reaffirms LightSquared's commitment to enable new and innovative companies such as netTALK to compete in the U.S. wireless market." Of course, the availability of that signal is the subject of an increasingly contentious battle with the GPS industry, which claims LightSquared's network of 40,000 towers blasting high-powered signals in a frequency band close to the minute satellite signals used by GPS receivers will effectively destroy GPS. The lobby group formed to fight LightSquared's plans, the Coalition to Save Our GPS, announced more members as it gears for a fight that will be kicked off Friday with the release of a report on the interference issues.

It's already been reported by some of the groups involved in the testing that LightSquared's plan will cause unacceptable GPS service disruptions and LightSquared has countered that GPS devices can effectively be hardened against the interference at minimal cost for newly manufactured devices. Retrofitting is another matter and aviation would be among the sectors hardest hit by those expenses because of the tens of thousands of pricey panel-mounted GPS-dependent avionics already in use. After the report is issued on Friday, the FCC will issue a determination on LightSquared's plan and there will be a comment period.

Bombardier Execs Dispel Learjet China Rumor

Top executives with Bombardier are actively dispelling predictions the company will hive off its struggling Learjet division to Chinese interests and concentrate on its highly profitable line of large-cabin business jets. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, the newspaper says Bombardier Aerospace President Guy Hachey and Steve Ridolfi, president of the business jet division, both "swatted away" what it called the "recurring rumor" that the Wichita operations were on the block. In fact, Ridolfi said he expected expansion at the Wichita plant as the composite Learjet 85 goes into production. "The 85 is the largest and most capable Learjet ever built and it will change the face of Learjet just on that basis," Ridolfi said. There are about 2,000 employees in Wichita. Meanwhile, fresh from more than $1 billion in bizjet orders from the Paris Air Show, Bombardier remains bullish on the future of its most expensive products.

The company sold a total of 16 Global 7000 and Global 8000 large-cabin, long-range bizjets that are an evolution of its already popular Global series. The first of the new aircraft, which were announced last October in the face of challenges from Gulfstream and Embraer in particular, won't be delivered until 2017 but continue to be among the company's most attractive products. "We expect the large-cabin segment to stay red hot," he said.

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

Question of the Week: Tax Breaks and GA

President Obama pretty much sealed the fate of bonus depreciation on GA aircraft in a press conference Wednesday.

Is the general aviation industry too dependent on tax breaks?
(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.)

Survey: Aircraft Batteries

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The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

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: The Power of Paris

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.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Loose Lips Ruin Trips

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.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Aviation Consumer's Tiedown Shootout

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

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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Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: PS Air (KCID, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

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

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.

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 Lynette Campbell of Auke Bay, AK. 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.