AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 32b

August 11, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! FAA's Vetting System for Inspectors back to top 

FAA Clarifies Inspector Authorization Policy

The FAA has tweaked its proposal for clarifying how it authorizes maintenance inspectors, and NBAA and AOPA seemed mostly satisfied with the results, although AOPA says it is still concerned about how the new policy (PDF) will be implemented. The proposal issued last November triggered alarm that some inspectors would not meet the new proposed standards, causing a shortage, leading to delays and higher maintenance costs. The policy issued last week "has clearly been broadened to include as eligible for renewals those [inspectors] who perform specialized or occasional maintenance inspections," said AOPA.

NBAA said it had advocated for the FAA to clarify its criteria, because the former rules had been confusing. "The lack of specific guidance had led some FAA inspectors to define the term narrowly and deny renewals to [some] individuals," NBAA said. The new definition will become effective with the next inspector renewal expiration date of March 31, 2013.

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Struggling for Common Ground back to top 

Airline Pilots Fight For Pay

Airline pilots are seeking to take back wages, benefits, and pension concessions they gave up to save their employers from bankruptcy following the 2001 terrorist attacks, but airlines allege the pilots aren't playing fair. US Airways filed suit last week because the company believes its pilots have illegally caused as many as 10 flight cancellations each day since May. The union says pilots are being forced to fly unsafe aircraft. At Continental, last month saw an unusual spike in the number of pilots calling in sick, which the carrier says caused it to cancel 30 flights. Continental's pilots union says it has concerns about staffing shortages. Some pilots at major carriers say they have seen their pay cut in half over the past decade. Unions are concerned that if the airlines have their way, negotiations to set new pay and benefits packages may take a long time.

A 25-year veteran captain for US Airways cited by The Wall Street Journal told the newspaper that over the past ten years he'd seen his pay fall from $225 per hour to $125. Along with that, his defined pension plan was terminated and the $100,000 per year he'd expected as retirement income at age 60 has dropped to $28,000 per year beginning at age 65. A United pilot told a similar story, saying his pay had been cut in half and his pension was lost when the company fell into bankruptcy. His prospects may be considerably better than the 1,400 pilots United has yet to call back from furlough. According to Kit Darby, a pilot benefits consultant, major carriers have generally lowered both pay rates and thinned the ranks of pilots over the past decade. Darby told The Wall Street Journal that along while those trends have held for the majors, discount carriers have seen their ranks double over the past five years.

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Redefining Fast back to top 

Hypersonic Flight Test Scheduled For Thursday

If all goes well, the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle II will launch Aug. 11 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, near Los Alamos, Calif., and splash down nearly 4,900 miles away -- and 30 minutes later -- near The Marshal Islands. The test flight is the product of DARPA funding and Lockheed Martin production. The arrowhead-shaped glider is a vehicle that will be attached to an eight-story-tall Minotaur IV rocket. It is part of a system intended to reach speeds of up to Mach 20 to deliver a military strike anywhere on earth within one hour.

Thursday's test will launch the Falcon into the Earth's upper atmosphere where it will cover the bulk of the about 4,900 miles. If all goes well, it should pass Hawaii about 15 minutes after leaving the California coast. Near the end of the trip, the vehicle will make a sharp descent into the atmosphere and then level off. If proven, the system could cover the distance from Los Angeles to New York in 12 minutes. A previous test saw the vehicle travel for nine minutes before controllers lost contact. Data collected from the new test will be used to confirm theory and expand knowledge of hypersonic flight.

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The African Skies, Firsthand back to top 

An African Journey Just For Pilots

Flying an African safari is on the "bucket list" for many aviators, and next month a group of pilots are flying their own airplanes from the U.S. to circumnavigate Africa on a new 20,000-mile adventure organized by Air Journey. The pilots will meet at the Chateau Frontenac hotel in Quebec on Sept. 7 for an extensive briefing before launching on the 54-day trip, which will feature stops in 27 countries. While in Africa, the travelers will fly above the Masai Mara national park in hot-air balloons, visit Victoria Falls, and stay at high-end resorts along the continent's west coast.

"It's not too late for more people to join us," trip leader Thierry Pouille told AVweb this week. "The visas and inoculations can still be done in time." The trip includes flight planning, accommodations in luxury hotels, most meals, and full-time guide services. The cost is $69,750 per person, plus a fee of $15,250 for each airplane. The group is scheduled to return to Quebec on Oct. 31.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

FAA Posts New Guidance For Fuel Approvals

The FAA has published a new Advisory Circular providing guidance for the approval of new aeronautical fuels. Issuance of the document aims to "facilitate the aviation fuel approval process," according to the FAA, by "clarifying and describing" acceptable methods of compliance to existing FAA regulations. But unknown to most in the industry who aren't involved in fuel work, AC 20-24 sparked controversy last summer when proponents of a quick replacement for 100LL complained to FAA's upper management that the agency's Engine and Propeller Directorate was dragging its feet on allowing STCs for fuel approvals.

Specifically, General Aviation Modifications, Inc. had applied for an STC for its G100UL development fuel. Months after the application, the FAA still hasn't issued the STC, but we're told by GAMI that progress is being made. Interestingly, earlier this summer, the Engine and Propeller Directorate quietly issued a memo from the office's Mark Rumizen pointedly saying only ASTM approvals would be accepted by the FAA, not STCs, this despite a policy statement from FAA upper management that all paths to approvals would be acceptable. Just as quietly, the memo was withdrawn in late July.

The new AC 20-24 is actually a revision of a previous document, updated to meet the demands of certifying new fuels. "The recent increase in new and alternative aviation fuel development efforts necessitates clarification of the FAA approval policy to support these many projects for both avgas and jet fuel," according to the FAA's response to comments on its draft of the new AC. The FAA also notes that the AC actually doesn't address how to approve a fuel, but provides guidance on "how to approve engines and airplanes when operating on a specified fuel."

The AC doesn't create new rules, but explains to the aviation community -- especially those interested in developing new fuels -- how the FAA interprets the rules already on the books. The aim of the AC, the FAA said, is to "ensure any fuel that is approved will have been evaluated to the extent necessary to perform in a safe and consistent manner when introduced in service." The FAA said it has funded an extensive amount of research on unleaded avgas and "the FAA Technical Center is recognized as the industry leader for evaluation of candidate aviation gasolines." Also, the FAA has established the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee (UAT ARC) to work with industry to develop a plan to address this issue. A report on that committee's activities was expected at AirVenture, but furloughs caused by Congressional budget fights cancelled it.

Do Pilots Make Better CEOs?

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Well, you knew it in your heart all along but now researchers from Notre Dame University's Mendoza College of Business and from the University of Oregon have confirmed it: Pilots make better leaders, especially in the corporate setting. In a study that compared the relative success of 179 companies led by CEOs who are pilots and 2,900 led by those who are not, researchers found that pilot-led companies tend to do better, by some benchmarks, than those who don't fly. "These CEOs tend to complete acquisitions that are more successful than those completed by non-sensation seeking CEOs," Notre Dame Professor Matthew Cain said. "Their creativity and novelty seeking characteristics lead them into deals that improve the growth prospects of their firms." The researchers say its in those CEOs' genes to take calculated risks that can lead to better prospects for their companies and it works for the same reason many of them ride motorcycles, skydive and fly aircraft. The same genetic predisposition can also lead to a host of other less noble pastimes.

The so-called Sensation Seeking Scale developed in the 1970s measures behaviors exhibited by "sensation seekers" and flying fits a category of that type of personality. Sensation seekers are also prone to habitual drug use, sex, psychopathy, risk-taking and cognitive innovation. Taking on the challenge of running a big company tends to bring out the best, rather than the worst, facets of the personality type and the result can be greater personal and business success. "Firms led by CEOs who are pilots exhibit corporate policies that differ substantially from those led by non-pilots," Cain said. "For example, CEO pilot-led firms are more likely to engage in mergers and acquisitions, have more debt in their capital structure -– meaning higher leverage and greater overall stock return volatility. Thus, thrill-seeking CEOs bring a certain element of this personality trait into the executive suite, as reflected by more aggressive corporate policies."

Related Content:

Avidyne Announces TAS Winner And New Giveaway

Avidyne this week chose its first Extravaganza Prize winner -- who won after clicking on the contest link in AVwebFlash -- and announced the start of a new giveaway. Bob Edmondson, of Brookshire, Texas, won a TAS620A dual-antenna active-surveillance traffic advisory system, valued at almost $21,000. The new gear will be installed in Edmondson's 1960 Beech BE35-33 Debonair. The company announced the giveaway at Sun 'n Fun in April, and collected about 1,000 entries. Edmondson's name was selected at random. The new giveaway offers an IFD540 FMS/GPS/NAV/COM, valued at $17,000.

The winner will be chosen in a random drawing on Jan. 3. Entrants must be an aircraft owner to win the prize. The IFD540 unit is expected to be certified in the second half of next year. The winner can choose to wait for it, or may select another Avidyne product of equal or lesser value at an earlier date, the company said. An entry form is available online at the Avidyne web site.

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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

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.

AVweb Insider Blog: Lycoming Explains Why Pump Gas Isn't Mogas

In the second of three guest posts to the AVweb Insider blog on aviation fuels, Lycoming GM Michael Kraft expands on his explanation of why Lycoming approved some of its engines for automobile type gas. But not just any car gas. Lycoming favors and has specified an aviation-spec automotive gasoline whose parameters are more tightly controlled and guaranteed than are those at the corner filling station.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Lycoming's View -- Airworthiness by Design, Not Luck

In Part 3 of his guests posts to the AVweb Insider blog, Lycoming's Michael Kraft explains how the company arrived at its decision to approve some of its engines for an aviation-spec automotive-type gasoline.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Question of the Week: Pilots as CEOs

A new study out of Notre Dame has determined that chief executive officers who are also pilots lead their companies especially well. This week, we'd like to know how that gibes with your experience.

Do pilots make better CEOs?
(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.

AVbuys || AVweb Stories About Great Deals in Aviation
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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Video: Aviation Consumer's Remos NXT Flight Trial

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

Remos has a successful line of light sport aircraft, and now they've introduced a new and improved model, the NXT. Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli flew the airplane recently, and here's his video report.

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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.

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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!

Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Isn't it time to initiate a digital marketing program with AVweb that will deliver traffic and orders directly to your web site? Discover several new and highly successful marketing options to use in lieu of static print or banner campaigns. Click now for details.
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Michael F. Young of McLean, VA. 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.