AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 32a

August 8, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! GA Comes to China in a Big Way back to top 

China To Hold First GA Fly-In

The first-ever general aviation fly-in will take place in China in September as part of a five-day summit on GA issues in Beijing. According to AOPA, the summit, sponsored by AOPA-China, will include government and military officials discussing the incremental relaxation of the almost prohibitive regulations that currently restrict private aviation. It will also include a two-day forum on the economic opportunities that will flow from the regulation changes. "It is an excellent networking opportunity with China's aviation delegation, GA industry members as well as clients," Yinjie Jason Zhang, a New-York-based pilot and member of the AOPA-China board of directors, told AOPA.

AOPA is sending Melissa Rudinger, its senior VP for government and regulatory affairs, and John Sheehan, the secretary general of the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations. "With the decision by the Chinese government to support GA development and airspace reform, China is a promising future market for the worldwide GA industry," Rudinger said. The summit runs from Sept. 20-24, and information about participation can be obtained by e-mailing yinjie.zhang@aopa.org.cn.

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Turbulent Times back to top 

Congress Acts On FAA Funding

Lawmakers announced Thursday a plan to end the partial shutdown of the FAA, and the Senate passed a temporary funding measure Friday. The FAA's last temporary funding measure expired July 23, reportedly causing the immediate layoff of about 75,000 people either directly employed by, or contracted to work for, the FAA. The shutdown also prevented the FAA from collecting approximately $30 million per day in airline ticket taxes. After failing to pass a temporary (or more permanent) funding measure for the FAA, the Senate began a five-week-long "district work break." Had the Senate not acted on funding the FAA before returning to work in September, the FAA was on track to lose about $1.3 billion in ticket tax revenue.

The Senate failed to pass a funding measure for the FAA in part because of disagreements between the House and Senate over funding for air service to certain remote airports and laws affecting airline worker unionization. Thursday, reports stated that the temporary deal was said to follow along the lines of the House's version of the bill, which excludes subsidies for 13 rural airports. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood can issue waivers to at least partially fund those subsidies, regardless. As of Thursday, it appeared issues regarding worker unionization are not addressed by the temporary measure but will be left for further debate in the future. One FAA engineer who was interviewed on CNN said that the experience has left him cautious, saying he planned to be more frugal with his money for fear of another layoff.

GAMA: GA Shipments Down

Total GA shipments dropped 15.5 percent in 2011 when compared to the same six-month period last year, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said Thursday, but small piston aircraft weren't the biggest losers in the segment. The first six months of 2011 saw 791 shipments versus 936 shipments for that period during 2010. The biggest loser in the general aviation segment was business jets. The industry shipped 355 last year, but recorded 261 in 2011 -- a 26.5-percent drop. Turboprop deliveries fell by 8.9 percent. And piston-powered planes fared better, but only by the slimmest of margins -- their numbers fell off by 8.7 percent. GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce included his political observations in a news release that delivered the figures and didn't seem to hold back.

"These negative shipment numbers demonstrate precisely how ill-timed and potentially destructive the Obama Administration's rhetoric and policies toward corporate jets are for general aviation," Bunce said. He added that the administration has "singled out business aircraft owners with political demagoguery," in a way that is "doing more damage to an industry that has obviously not yet clawed its way out of this recession." Year-to-date airplane billings for general aviation added up to more than $7 billion through two quarters of 2011, according to GAMA. The administration has singled out business jets while pressing to close what it has identified as tax loopholes. And it has also suggested changing depreciation schedules for general aviation aircraft purchases from five years to seven. GAMA's complete report is available online (PDF). Find Bunce's comments, here.

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GPS Faces Bigger Threats than WiFi back to top 

Solar Flares Could Hit GPS

It might be time to review those VOR skills in light of sunspot activity that had the potential to disrupt GPS signals on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, the sun sent a significant burst of electromagnetic energy toward earth after sunspot 1261 belched three major solar flares. The eruption was rated at three on a scale of five and that's enough to make GPS equipment lose its way. It's particularly hard on high-precision units like WAAS-capable aviation gear. The worst was expected to be over by late Saturday but there could be more solar storms coming.

After a prolonged period of unusual sleepiness, the sun appears to be waking up as it moves to the apex of its 11-year activity cycle. More big flares are possible, even likely, and if they get bigger than those on Thursday they can cause real problems. "In a solar cycle there are perhaps 10 or 20 events of this size," Brian J. Anderson, a research physicist at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab, told the Baltimore Sun. "This is not a once-in-a-century type of thing. I'd say it's the first really strong one we're seeing out of this solar cycle."

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So What's Boeing Been Up To? back to top 

Boeing Plans For Space Flight

With the last Space Shuttle flight in the history books, Boeing is stepping up plans to provide a manned space mission alternative with a modern take on the space capsule. The company has selected to use Atlas 5 rockets to test its CST-100 seven-place "space taxi" on three flights in 2015. Only the third will carry people. Boeing's first test will attempt to deliver the CST-100 to orbit. The next will be intentionally aborted after launch and before the vehicle has reached space. The third plans to deliver Boeing test pilots to the International Space Station, setting the stage for more regular service in 2016.

The Atlas 5 has recorded 26 successful flights without one failure over five years. Meanwhile, multiple companies have been working for years on products and propulsion systems that would deliver cargo or passengers into space. Boeing may have at least one advantage. Boeing's effort is partly funded by NASA. Its tests will set the CST-100 and its propulsion system for competition against products from SpaceX, which has already completed a series of test launches. XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, and Orbital Sciences Corp are also all pursuing space vehicle programs. The last company plans to launch a resupply vessel into space early in 2012.

Boeing Brands U.S. With 747 Track

Tuesday, a marathon flight of Boeing's latest cargo freighter, the 747-8, carried the jet 11,666 miles over 17 hours and roughly traced "747" across the western half of the United States, according to tracking provided by FlightAware.com. The practice isn't entirely unique. In another notable example, Cessna in 2008 used a Citation X's track to draw the company logo across several Midwest states. Boeing expects the FAA to evaluate test data over the next few weeks and return with certification for the aircraft. The big jet has flown more than 1200 flights through the test program and that did lead to some changes for the aircraft.

Flight testing revealed problems with the flaps and outboard ailerons that required aerodynamic changes and fly-by-wire system adjustments, respectively. However, Boeing believes they've achieved their goal of creating a newer, more advanced aircraft while preserving flight characteristics that will make transition easier for current 747-400 pilots. Those qualified in the older jet will not need any simulator time to qualify in the new plane, but will need three days of ground school to learn its systems. A passenger version of the 747-8, called the Intercontinental, is still in testing.

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News Briefs back to top 

Pilot Thought F-16s Were Admiring Her Cub

A Chicago-area pilot who says she thought the pilots of a pair of F-16s circling her were just admiring her award-winning 1941 Piper Cub will undoubtedly get a written explanation of why they were really there. Myrtle Rose, 75, admits she didn't check NOTAMs or even turn on the radio in the blue-and-yellow Cub she calls Winston when she went for a hop from her fly-in community on Aug. 5 and strayed into a presidential TFR. When the fighters appeared, it apparently never occurred to her they might be on official business. "I thought, 'Oh, well, they're just looking at how cute the Cub is," she told The Associated Press. It's not clear whether the fighter jocks attempted to escort her to an airport but it may not have done any good. Rose headed home and the airstrip in the affluent Chicago suburb of South Barrington soon filled with police cars.

Rose said she filled out a report to the FAA explaining that she thought the fighter jocks were just trying to ogle her Cub, which recently earned best-in-class honors at AirVenture Oshkosh. That's not a likely flight profile for $9,000-an-hour, fully armed fighters, according to NORAD spokeswoman Stacey Knott. "The biggest thing to keep in mind is that when F-16s come screaming up to you, they are probably trying to tell you something," she said. The FAA will be telling her something but spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory told the AP she doesn't know how stern that message will be. Penalties for busting TFRs range from letters to fines to suspension of flying privileges and it will likely be a few weeks before Rose's punishment is meted out.

Breitling App Puts You In The Reno Air Races

Breitling Chronometers has released a free iPhone game called Reno Air Races, where you get to try your hand at the pylons at Reno using the accelerometer in your iPhone in place of stick and rudder. The visuals are rather stunning and performance is quite good for something running on a phone. The game has a quick play mode, multiplayer (online) mode, tutorial and even its own YouTube movie.

You hold the phone horizontally and tilt back for elevator, left and right for aileron, and there are two buttons in the bottom corners for the rudders. There is also a button for a speed brake, and a button for an extra "boost" of speed when you need it. Tip: for a knife-edge turn, you still need rudder in the direction of the turn rather than "top rudder." Warning: it's easy to blow a lot of time without realizing it, and the hard turns can be hard on your phone if you're standing too close to a wall.

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

AVmail: August 8, 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: Things Will Be Better If Pilots Pay

Regarding the user fee issue: As a group, aircraft owner/operators are among the most affluent members of society. We should never have been on the government dole and should always have been paying for every service we get.

This is necessary not only as a matter of equity, but we must have control of the "services" offered. Free enterprise should be allowed to provide WX, traffic, ATC, whatever.

Cell phones automatically and invisibly change frequencies and power levels constantly. Why in this age should we have government workers telling us when to make frequency changes? We are held back by government's inability to adapt to the times. If we were paying, we would demand efficiency.

So, for both reasons, we should pay.

Darryl Phillips

... Or It Will Get Worse

This "departure fee" is only the start of the usual ruse of our government to open the door to other user fees. Once this small fee is allowed, it will lead to many other fees, not to mention a simple ongoing set of increases on this fee to where it becomes a monster in and of itself.

This is simply a "foot in the door," and acceptance of this fee is simply the start of the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill. History has shown this to us time after time after time.

Blaine Banks

Let D. B. Die

This is a bad question. Let it die. He stole $200,000. I'd bet the FBI and other agencies have spent more than $20,000,000 trying to solve this. Worse than that, they are still spending money. Let it die. Enough money has been wasted on a dead man. Your question just perpetuates the spending of more taxpayer dollars.

Fred Willson

Pictures Perfect

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy the expanded "Picture of the Week" segment. Can never get enough.

Rick Humphries

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: The Art, Science, and Politics of Flight

The cumulative power of thousands of airplanes can affect even the most jaded worldview. Mary Grady experienced that for herself at EAA AirVenture this year and shares some observations on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Lycoming on Automotive Gas

A significant subtext in the quest to replace 100LL with an unleaded equivalent is the use of automobile fuel or mogas in engines that are approved to burn it. The two major engine makers, Lycoming and Continental, have traditionally avoided the approvals required to do this. But Lycoming sees a place for automotive-type fuels in the supply chain, and beginning this week, in a series of three guest posts to the AVweb Insider blog, Lycoming GM Michael Kraft explains the company's views on how automobile fuels can be integrated into aviation. The blogs will run on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Read the first here, then share your own comments.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation -- A Memoir: Chapter 4 -- Primary Flight Training Part 3

Richard Taylor continues his memoir with the final section of primary flight training: navigation, night flight, and IFR. After a short delay to avoid not one but two hurricanes in North Carolina, he graduates and is ready to go on to basic flight training in Texas.

Click here to read the fourth chapter.

Podcast: Google and Emission-Free Aerial Transportation

File Size 6.6 MB / Running Time 7:10

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Google's Larry Page has attended three of the CAFE Foundation's Electric Airplane Symposiums, and now his company is putting up money to help them out. AVweb spoke with CAFE Foundation President Dr. Brien Seeley about what the sponsorship means and how it affects the coming Green Flight Challenge in late September.

Click here to listen. (6.6 MB, 7:10)

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Carlson Aviation (KYKN, Yankton, SD)

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

Word of a good FBO spreads far and wide — as evidenced by our latest "FBO of the Week," Carlson Aviation at Chan Gurney Municipal Airport (KYKN) in Yankton, South Dakota.

AVweb reader Bruce Robertson tells us how, in Carlson's case, you really can believe the hype:

After reading their profile on various web sites, I thought I'd make Yankton a stop on my way to Oshkosh. They were better than all reports, welcoming us and taking care of our every need. As we needed to stay the night, Katie Carlson took care of hotel and transportation details. She also loaned us the crew car so we could explore the area a bit. We liked Carlson so much, we stopped in again on the way out of Oshkosh. They are worth a visit.

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!

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

EAA AirVenture 2011: Complete Coverage Round-Up

Click here for all our news stories from AirVenture — both for 2011 and previous years. And our AVwebAudio newsletter has the complete run-down of this year's multimedia coverage:

Want to get AVwebAudio in your inbox every Friday? Just log in to AVweb (or create a free account in the upper right corner of this page) and visit AVweb.com/profile. Choose "Update E-mail Subscriptions" in the profile center, and from there, you can add or drop any AVweb newsletters.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Back in the early '70s, I was an FO for now-defunct Cascade Airways in the Pacific Northwest. We were known to ATC as the VFR on-top airline. The following exchange was heard one day:

"Ah, Cascade 123, Seattle Center; what do the clouds look like for you out there?"

Cascade 123:
"Well, let's see -- there's one at 12 o'Clock that looks like a fat little bunny and another at 9 o'Clock that looks like a big pony with a really long tail."

[no reply]

Bob Kay
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.)

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.