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LightSquared says it will take legal action if the FCC rejects its plan to build a nationwide wireless broadband system in the U.S. that the GPS industry and Department of Defense says will
interfere with GPS signals. In its most aggressive move so far, LightSquared wrote a letter (PDF) to FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski reiterating the company's position that the faulty design and performance of the majority of GPS receivers is responsible for the interference detected in a series of tests earlier
this year. LightSquared then called a news conference to throw down the legal gauntlet. "If it is impossible to get a decision on this that allows us to go forward, I think our way forward is pretty
clear, that we then have to insist on our legal rights," LightSquared VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs Jeff Carlisle is quoted by ExecutiveGov as telling reporters. "If you have to be the bad guy, and go out
and start insisting on your property line, well, then that's what we'll do." The FCC has ordered more testing and the results are due Nov. 30.
As we reported in June, Genachowski assured Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the FCC "will not permit LightSquared to
provide commercial service until it is clear potential GPS interference concerns have been resolved." In its most recent letter to Genachowski, LightSquared makes it clear it expects the GPS industry
to modify its equipment to ensure it doesn't allow signals from outside the frequency ranges assigned to GPS to interfere with their operation. There are about 500 million GPS-reliant devices in use
in the U.S. LightSquared has admitted that a small percentage of them, mostly high-performance measuring and timing devices, are legitimately interfered with by its signals and says it hired an
engineer to design a cheap and simple fix for those units.
Aircraft Spruce Annual West Coast Super Sale & Fly-In! Aircraft Spruce West will be holding their annual West Coast Super Sale and Fly-In on Saturday, October 8, 2011 from 7:00am to
3:00pm in Corona, California. Come and join the Aircraft Spruce team and vendors for lunch, special pricing, vendor demonstrations, and educational seminars. Lots of opportunities to win
raffle prizes from some of your favorite vendors, and a complimentary shuttle will be offered to and from the Corona Airport. Call Aircraft Spruce at 1 (877) 4‑SPRUCE, or
As of Oct. 1, changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill have taken effect that include flight-training benefits for veterans. The new benefits aim to provide support for short-term vocational training in
addition to the traditional college-degree programs. The change is not expected to create a major new wave of pilots, however, as happened in the post-World War II era. Only 160 veterans per year, out
of about 13,000 who are expected to use the new vocational benefits, will likely enroll in flight schools, the Army Times reported. The benefits will pay up to $10,000 per year to cover
flight-school fees and tuition. The bill also provides some housing subsidies and pays tuition for some online courses as well.
The guidelines to qualify for the program are complex, but in general, only those
who served in active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, are eligible. The bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits, which generally can be used up to 15 years after release from active duty.
Some veterans also may be able to transfer their benefits to dependents. More details can be found at the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
An independent panel has reviewed how the FAA hires and trains air traffic controllers, and this week released a report (PDF) with 50 recommendations for improvements.
The panel, made up of five experts in the field, including one from the FAA and one from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, recommended that the FAA should expand its use of mobile
simulator labs, establish a yearly refresher training course for senior controllers who act as trainers, and more closely oversee the curriculum of ATC training programs in colleges around the
country. "This report shows us we are doing a great job, but there are things we can and will do better," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.
The panel also investigated how professionalism is taught to future controllers, and found that the FAA Academy "does not adequately establish a true concept in professionalism." Most professions,
such as medicine and law, require a course in ethics and professional standards, the panel said. Yet, "there is no current requirement for a course similar to these for air traffic controllers,"
according to the report. A test program is in the works for several en route centers that is scheduled to launch next month. The program will create a peer-to-peer assessment, providing mentorship and
a lead-by-example approach to improving professionalism. It will be offered at all en route centers next year.
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First place in NASA's Green Flight Challenge went to Pipistrel-USA, for a prize of $1.35 million, and the second-place prize of $120,000 went to team eGenius, NASA announced on Monday. The prize
purse was the biggest ever awarded for an aviation competition, according to NASA. To win, the aircraft had to fly 200 miles in less than two hours and use less than one gallon of fuel per occupant,
or the equivalent in electricity. Pipistrel's Taurus G4 achieved fuel efficiency of 403 passenger miles per gallon at a speed of 107 mph. The results show that "battery-powered electric flight is
feasible for general aviation aircraft," according to Pipistrel team leader Jack Langelaan.
"NASA congratulates Pipistrel-USA.com for proving that ultra-efficient aviation is within our grasp," said Joe Parrish, NASA's acting chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Today
we've shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice." The challenge was sponsored by Google. The new technologies that were demonstrated in the
competition "may end up in general aviation aircraft, spawning new jobs and new industries for the 21st century," according to NASA's news release. Fourteen teams took part in the competition, and
three qualified for the final fly-off. The eGenius, sponsored by Airbus, also flew on electric battery power.
Do electric airplanes have a future, or are they just an intriguing curiosity? In her latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Mary Grady argues the huge strides in performance prove they're
ready for prime time.
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Facing increasing pressure from both industry and the military to allow greater freedom to unmanned aerial vehicles, the FAA is expected to start integrating small UAVs (generally 55 pounds or
less) into the National Airspace System as soon as 2013, the National Defense Industrial Association said this week. The FAA formed a committee in June to create rules that would govern that integration. Rick Prosek, manager of the FAA's
unmanned aircraft program office, told the NDIA at a recent conference, "We are plowing through the small-UAS rule to put that on the street." Under current rules, anyone who wants to fly a UAV of any
size freely in the NAS must obtain an FAA waiver. The proposed new rules could be published as soon as December.
The new rules will detail the procedures for operators to launch, fly, and land the small UAVs, the NDIA said. In April, the Army demonstrated for the FAA a sense-and-avoid system using the MQ-1C
Gray Eagle, at El Mirage, Calif., for over 11 hours, according to the NDIA. Pressure to allow UAVs more freedom to fly is building as used drones from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan return to the
U.S., but airline pilots and air traffic controllers warn against rushing. "We want to make sure, before this cake is taken out of the oven, it is fully baked," said Sean Cassidy, national safety
coordinator with the Air Line Pilots Association. Chris Stevenson, of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, told the NDIA the introduction of unpiloted aircraft would alter virtually every
page of their handbooks. "We have more questions than we have answers This is a big, big cultural change," he said. At the recent AOPA Summit, UAV industry expert Paul McDuffy spoke with AOPA's
Heidi Williams about the integration of UAVs in the NAS, and the impact on pilots; click here for a
video of that 10-minute interview.
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A New York politician is calling for a ban on "tourist flights" by helicopters over an unspecified area of the city following Tuesday's fatal crash on the East River. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) told CBS 2, whose Chopper 2 was among the first to hover
over the scene of the crash, that she's concerned all those helicopters flying around aren't safe. "I have written the FAA to see if the frequent numbers of helicopters going across the East River and
in that vicinity is safe or not. Thank heavens they weren't going over buildings... or there would be a tremendous loss of life," It's not clear how Maloney would distinguish between "tourist flights"
and other helicopter traffic or how the flight in question might meet her criteria. The Bell 206 that crashed was privately owned by the pilot and all on board knew each other. The flight had been
arranged to celebrate the birthdays of two of the occupants. While the pilot Paul Dudley was local, two of the passengers, including Sonia Marra Nicholson, who died, were from Australia and the others
were British citizens living in Portugal. Some reports say Dudley is blaming the crash on a mechanical fault.
The NTSB is investigating that claim and interviewing witnesses. What is known is that the aircraft had just left the 34th Street heliport when it went out of control and crashed inverted into the
river. Dudley and one of his passengers got out immediately and two other passengers were pulled out by rescuers. Marra Nicholson's body was recovered about 90 minutes after the crash.
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SuperJet International will be among the prominent presenters as the National Business Aviation Association convention gets under
way next week in Las Vegas. The company will be promoting a business version of the SuperJet regional airliner it is building as a joint venture between Russia's Sukhoi and Italy's Alenia. The
SuperJet business variant was announced earlier this year and NBAA is the first North American exposure to the product. It's an example of the globalization of the bizjet industry where countries like
Russia and China used to come shopping but are now coming to sell. Two Chinese organizations are also on the agenda for NBAA, including aircraft sales and brokerage firm China Business Aviation Group
and China Civil Aviation Report, a magazine devoted to non-military flying in the country. Cessna may be the only company with a truly new aircraft to introduce at NBAA.
As we reported in September, the company announced the Citation M2, which is a bit bigger than a Mustang but about $3 million
cheaper than the least expensive CJ. Cessna will have a mockup on display and perhaps flesh out more details on the project. Updating old designs remains in vogue and Falco will unveil the fifth and
last interior design for the Avro business jet, a new use for the Bae 146 regional airliner. A revamped version of the Beechjet 400 with new engines and avionics, called the Nextant 400XT, will also
be on display. More than 1,000 exhibitors and 25,000 attendees are expected.
Business aviation in Europe is rallying against recommendations in a consultant's report that, if implemented, could sharply reduce access to some European airports. The Steer Davies and Gleave
Impace Assessment report to the European Commission recommends that airport slots be allocated purely based on the number of passengers on board each aircraft. The European Business Aviation
Association calls the proposal simplistic and says it could seriously disrupt business aviation. "This report is blind to the full impact of the entire aviation industry on local and regional
economies," EBAA President Brian Humphries said in a speech to the European Airport Coordinators Association. "All of its arguments are based on the premise that maximum passenger throughput is the
be-all and end-all, and as a result, it consistently seeks ways that passenger throughput can be maximized, regardless of the economic impact on sectors other than airports and airlines."
Humphries said bizav generally avoids major hubs and uses secondary and local airports to maximize efficiency for clients. The difficulty is that airlines are increasingly using the smaller
airports and the proposal could push business aviation from its traditional operating areas. EBAA says the best solution would be to guarantee slots to business aviation at secondary airports based on
historical usage, noting that business aviation has invested heavily in facilities at many of these airports.
Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?
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Rep. John Mica, who helped bring TSA into being 10 years ago, says he's surprised at how big the agency has has become. Really? Now he would like to get the agency under control by privatizing
it. But that has its own problems, says Paul Bertorelli in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog.
Electronics International has had great sales success wit its large-screen engine monitor, the MVP50. In this video, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli takes a test flight to see how it
works. The MVP50 has proven popular because it fits well with aftermarket glass products likes the Garmin G500/600 line and the Aspen Evolution system.
Jeppesen prints half the approach plates they used to one billion sheets per year instead of two billion. But they've also changed the way they print many of them. Any custom
order, from trip kits to new manuals, gets printed similarly to how you might at home. Just bigger. And faster. And more.
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It's been a busy week for FBO nominations on AVweb.com but when all was said and done, we had to give this week's blue ribbon to Glacier Jet Center at Glacier Park International Airport (KPGI) in Kalispell, Montana.
AVweb reader Mark Fryburg had high praise for the staff and facilities at Glacier:
Best FBO service I've ever received in my 29 yeas of light aircraft flying. From my first e-mail to book a tie-down and rental car through ramp service and tourism advice, they constantly offered to
help and promptly delivered on their promises. A three-man ramp crew greeted us to park, fuel, and unload our Debonair then load luggage in the car. The front desk staff was equally helpful.
Everything was delivered on time and as promised. Everyone was courteous and friendly. And my non-pilot wife felt especially welcomed.
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.
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