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US Airways Flight 1549 pilots Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger (retired) and his FO on that day Jeff Skiles will be back in the cockpit together for the first time Nov. 18 but they have some work
to do first. The Miracle on the Hudson pilots will be among the crew members on a fund-raising round-trip flight from Opa Locka Airport near Miami to Charlotte, NC in the Historical Flight Foundation's DC-7B. Foundation President Roger Jarman said Sullenberger and Skiles were invited along as
celebrity passengers but they said they wanted to work their way to what was to have been their final destination in the Airbus Jan. 15, 2009. "They will be down here a week early getting checked out
so they can be part of our live crew going to Charlotte and back," Jarman said in a podcast interview. Those who get the 20 or so remaining seats on
the flight (details here will be in for another treat after landing in Charlotte.
Sullenberger and Skiles will be along for a tour of the Aviation Museum of the Carolinas Flight 1549 exhibit of the aircraft they were flying when both engines were all but disabled by multiple
bird strikes in a flock of Canada geese. The aircraft is being preserved in the state in which it ended up after the pilots successfully ditched it in the Hudson River. The exhibit is being designed
to give museum patrons a sense of what it was like for the 155 crew and passengers after the flying stopped and the floating began.
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As WhiteKnightTwo, the space vehicle designed by Scaled Composites, flew overhead on Monday, Sir Richard Branson celebrated the construction of a new spaceport facility in New Mexico that will
support Virgin Galactic's space-tourism business. The 110,000-square-foot Gateway to Space building will serve as a combined operations terminal and hangar, with room to store two WhiteKnightTwo and
five SpaceShipTwo vehicles. The soaring steel-and-glass building also will be used for astronaut training, mission control, and facilities for friends and families of space travelers. A public visitor
area also is planned.
The $32.5 million building was paid for by the state of New Mexico. At Monday's event, a handful of protestors held signs outside the gate, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News. Some were concerned about the use of local water for the construction, and one held a sign reading
"Occupy Spaceport." Development at the site began about six years ago, and last year a 10,000-foot runway was completed. More than 450 space tourists already have bought tickets to fly with Virgin.
NASA also has chartered the system for up to three research flights, at $4.5 million. Space flights are expected to start in 2013.
Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson said last week his company is investing in technology that will develop low-carbon jet fuels from the waste materials produced in the steel industry. Virgin
Atlantic aircraft will be using the new fuel within two to three years, Branson said. "With oil running out, it is important that new fuel solutions are sustainable, and with the steel industry alone
able to deliver over 15 billion gallons of jet fuel annually, the potential is very exciting," Branson said. "This new technology is scalable, sustainable and can be commercially produced at a cost
comparable to conventional jet fuel."
Technology developed by LanzaTech will capture waste gases from industrial steel production, which will then be fermented and chemically converted using Swedish Biofuels technology. The production
process recycles waste products that would otherwise release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to Virgin. The technology is currently being tested in New Zealand, and a larger
demonstration facility will be commissioned in Shanghai by the end of this year. A demo flight with the new fuel is expected within 12 to 18 months. The first commercial operation will be in place in
China by 2014, Virgin said.
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A tower controller fell asleep on the overnight shift in March due to fatigue that resulted, at least in part, from the FAA's scheduling practices, the NTSB concluded in a report released on Wednesday. Two air carrier flights landed at Reagan National Airport, in
Washington, D.C., after the controller failed to respond. After the incident, which was widely reported in the media, the FAA began to schedule a second person on the mid-shift and expanded time off
after each overnight shift to at least nine hours. "This new report indicates how swiftly the FAA reacted to correct the problem and NATCA continues to support those improvements," NATCA President
Paul Rinaldi said in a statement on Wednesday.
The NTSB report details the actions of the various FAA personnel who were on duty that night, and lists the activities of the sleeping controller in the days leading up to the incident. The report
also found that the crews of the airplanes that landed had been told by a center controller they could land at DCA without tower contact, using unmanned airport procedures, but it was their decision.
The NTSB said that information was incorrect. The sleeping controller was temporarily suspended. No disciplinary actions were taken against the flight crews. The NTSB concluded that the probable
cause(s) of the incident were the tower controller's loss of consciousness induced by lack of sleep, fatigue resulting from working successive midnight shifts, and the FAA's air traffic control
scheduling practices. In a statement on Wednesday, the FAA said: "Following an incident at National Airport in March 2011, the FAA took swift action to enhance safety by increasing midnight shift
staffing at control towers, clarifying procedures for handling communications lapses and changing scheduling practices to minimize controller fatigue."
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China Eastern Airlines has abandoned plans to acquire 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners but will instead purchase 45 737s, and Boeing expects more changes. The company says it is expecting to see more
cancellations (and more orders) for its newest jet as it works through mitigation with customers affected by the aircraft's delayed arrival to market. More than 800 orders for the airliner have been
placed worldwide and Boeing expects to increase production of the airliner from two per month to ten per month by 2013. At least one analyst believes the loss of the early China Eastern orders could
actually turn positive for Boeing, even if the manufacturer can only sell most of those lost order spots.
Robert Stallard, an aerospace analyst with RBC Capital Markets, told Reuters that the China Eastern aircraft orders were likely placed at deep discounts. So, if Boeing can resell some of those
orders at a more current prices, the overall margins could still be positive for the program. Boeing says it does not currently believe that the China Eastern cancellations will have an effect on the
decision of other carriers in the region. The company expects Qantas, Air New Zealand and Korean Air Lines to hold firm to their more than 60 787 orders and Boeing China says there are no signs more
Chinese carriers will cancel. China Eastern's move may reflect a more conservative view of the long-haul market and generally, the near-term state of the world economy. A protracted weak global
economy could curb the need for larger long-haul jets. In that environment, smaller aircraft -- like the 737s China Eastern has now ordered -- could prove more attractive to conservative
The RAF's twin-engine, variable-sweep wing, low-level attack Tornado has hit a milestone few other aircraft models may reach -- it has surpassed one million hours flying in 30 years with the RAF
and 7,000 hours of combat operations. Tuesday one of the 131 Tornados still in service with the RAF was flown back to a BAE Systems facility at Warton, England, to celebrate the mark. The facility is
the same one where the first Tornado ADV rolled out 30 years ago. The aircraft's exterior has shown little change over the years, but its systems have made giant leaps to keep up with advances in
avionics and advancing technologies. RAF pilots still speak highly of the jet even when compared to modern attack fighters.
"Some of the American aircraft can carry more and for longer but in terms of capability we are on a par with them and there is nothing in Europe that can do what Tornado can do," wing commander
John Moreton told the Lancashire Evening Post. According to the BBC, the first prototype Tornado ADV was rolled out from Warton in 1979. The jets made their operational debut during the first Gulf war
and has flown in recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya. The RAF plans to replace the Tornado with Eurofighter Typhoons. The number of those aircraft and their life cycle are not expected to
combine to exceed the Tornados' one million hour mark.
Hang glider enthusiasts will celebrate 100 years of sport soaring this weekend at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina. The event marks the date of a glider flight by Orville Wright, on Oct. 24,
1911, that lasted for almost 10 minutes, setting a record that held for almost 10 years. That flight marked the start of the "sport and science of modern soaring as we know it today," according to the
event organizers. A variety of sailplanes and hang gliders will fly into Kill Devil Hills between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. "For pilots, this is equivalent to landing on
hallowed ground," says the event web site.
Orville Wright's glider flights at Kill Devil Hills in October 1911 were "some of the world's most dramatic glider flights ever," according to the National Park Service. "Not only did they deepen man's understanding of flight; they also served as the birth of the
recreational sport of soaring." Wright made about 90 flights, often into winds of 35 mph or more. On Oct. 24, 1911, flying in a 50-mph wind, Wright set a world soaring record of 9 minutes and 45
seconds in the air. The record stood until 1921. This weekend's full schedule of commemorative
events, held at both Kill Devil Hills and the nearby Wright Brothers National Memorial, was organized by a partnership of the Soaring Society of America, the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding
Association, the National Soaring Museum, and the Vintage Sailplane Association.
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LightSquared, the broadband company that has met with resistance from GPS users due to interference from its system, said last week technology company Partron America has developed a filter that
costs only $6. This technology, along with several other prototypes, will undergo extensive testing in the coming weeks, LightSquared said. "Preliminary testing leaves LightSquared confident that the
debate over our system and interference from GPS signals will be resolved," the company said in a news release.
The company said it has already adjusted its spectrum to eliminate interference with 99.75 percent of all GPS devices. "We invested $9 million to develop filters that ensured our signal did not
cross into spectrum licensed to GPS, which means that any interference that remains is caused by GPS signals looking into our spectrum," the company said. "Additionally, we have committed $50 million
to retrofit or replace high-precision GPS devices in use by federal agencies." The battle over the spectrum has been a
contentious one, as LightSquared laid the blame on GPS users "squatting" on wavelengths that were rightfully theirs. Yet with hundreds of millions of GPS users in agriculture and industry as well as
in aviation, the pushback has been equally firm.
Piper Aircraft interim CEO Geoff Berger is out, the company announced on Monday, and Simon Caldecott has been appointed the new interim CEO, effective immediately. Berger had been with the
company since July 2010, when he replaced Kevin Gould, who had been appointed CEO in June 2009, replacing James Bass, CEO since 2005. Piper also said on Monday the Altaire jet program is being
reviewed. "This is being undertaken to ensure the company is properly aligning business goals and light-jet market forecasts with investment strategies and economic forecasts," Caldecott said.
Monday's news release said the company will announce the conclusion of this review "as soon as possible."
Caldecott joined Piper from Hawker Beechcraft in 2009 to take over the Altaire program. Previously, he had worked for Raytheon Aircraft, and brings a total of 37 years of aviation experience to his
new job. He said on Monday that former Executive Vice President Randy Groom has left the company. Groom also was with Hawker Beechcraft before joining Piper in April 2010. Piper is based in Vero
Beach, Fla., and is financed by the government of Brunei.
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That's the upshot of Richard Branson's announcement last week that his Virgin Atlantic airline will be testing out and maybe using a synthetic jet fuel made from steel plant effluent. As much as
we cheer the idea, we're less thrilled with his statement that we're running out of oil. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli stresses that, to remain credible,
opinion leaders should stop saying things like this.
In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Russ Niles says Piper is correct in reviewing (and ultimately killing) the Altaire/PiperJet project -- for a variety of reasons, not least of
which is that the idea of a single-engine business jet is dated and the concept doomed from the start.
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AVweb reader Robert Inman discovered our latest "FBO of the Week" Branson JetCenter at Branson Airport
(KBBG) in Hollister, Missouri. Robert writes:
The initial service here was very courteous and professional. [My] aircraft was fueled promptly, a rental car was waiting on ramp, and all the paperwork [was] filled out and ready to go. When
weather prohibited our planned departure, the people at Branson JetCenter went far beyond expectations in providing comfort to my wife and me, providing a courtesy car for lunch transportation and
finally a rental car and hotel accommodations. The next morning, the aircraft was in front of the building at 0700, ready for our departure. These folks know the meaning of service!
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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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