AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 44a

October 31, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! After the Storm Comes the Paper Chase back to top 

SNF Hopes Insurance Covers Tornado-Related Costs

A total of 25 exhibitors and attendees whose airplanes were damaged or destroyed in the March 31 tornado at Sun 'n Fun have by now received an invoice from the show for the towing and environmental cleanup costs associated with their aircraft. In a podcast interview, SNF spokesman Jim Bernegger said the show's insurers did not cover those expenses because they consider them the responsibility of the individual owners and their insurance carriers. He said a letter accompanying the invoice recommends owners submit the invoice to their insurance companies as part of their overall claim. The total cost is about $90,000. Individual bills vary with the circumstances of the wreckage removal and the amount of oil, fuel and other pollutants spilled as a result, but all the bills are in the thousands of dollars. He noted SNF has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in tornado-related costs not covered by its insurance.

Within hours of the destructive storm, crews from a local towing company and environmental cleanup company were hauling away debris and making the site safe for the show to reopen the next day. Although there was still evidence of the storm the following day, most of the damage had been repaired and the damaged aircraft had been moved to a secure area at the south end of the field. Bernegger said that so far SNF has heard from two of those sent letters. One had actually moved his airplane himself and the associated costs were adjusted. The other had done as requested and submitted the bill to his insurer. Bernegger said no decision has been made on what to do if individual insurers balk at the recovery costs. Meanwhile, he said there have been numerous meetings and discussions about the lessons learned from the storm and new policies and procedures will be in place in time for next year's show.

Related Content:

Podcast: Insurance Fallout at Sun 'n Fun

File Size 6.3 MB / Running Time 6:55

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Not all the costs associated with cleaning up after last year's tornado are being covered by Sun 'n Fun's insurance carriers, and individual aircraft owners are being asked to submit claims to their carriers. SNF's Jim Bernegger spoke with AVweb's Russ Niles.

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Click here to listen. (6.3 MB, 6:55)

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Taxes, Fees, Charges -- And Opposition back to top 

Industry Coalition Forms To Fight Taxes

A coalition of nearly 30 industry groups (including AEA, ALPA, AOPA and NATCA) has organized to fight aviation tax increases while supporting aviation spending programs. The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) issued a statement Friday that urged Congress to "reject the proposed taxes" it says are part of a White House and Congressional Super Committee proposed debt-reduction plan. The same statement also said AEA "applauds the administration" for funding NextGen modernization efforts to the tune of $1 billion. According to AEA, the plan would impose two new taxes that would pay for general deficit reduction (unrelated to aviation). One described by AEA as a "user fee scheme" would apply a $100 per flight fee for "all flights" (excluding piston aircraft and other specific operations, according to AEA). A second fee would be collected in the form of a $5-per-trip passenger security tax.

The coalition says the $100 per flight fee would "stifle" the general aviation industry in the U.S. -- an industry that supports 1.3 million jobs and "$150 billion in economic activity every year," according to the coalition. The group says it has earned the support of "nearly 120" members of Congress who oppose the new taxes. That group has already told Congressional leadership that a new $100 departure tax would "cost airlines an estimated $1 billion a year." (The number matches the amount of NextGen funding proposed as part of the government's plan.) It's not entirely clear if the $1 billion figure is meant to describe the amount collected in fees alone, or if it includes some estimated monetary amount attributed to the "devastating impact on the aviation industry" opposing Congressmen say the fee would cause. The proposed passenger security tax would be an increase of an existing tax, doubling it to $5 per one-way trip in 2012 and then tripling it to $7.50 by 2017.

Related Content:

Podcast: Alphabets Organize to Oppose New Fees, Taxes on Aviation

File Size 8.7 MB / Running Time 9:31

Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Aviation groups say that user fees could be incorporated into a new government debt-reduction initiative. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with AEA president Paula Derks -- and played devil's advocate to learn more.

Listen, learn, and add your voice by contacting your representative.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (8.7 MB, 9:31)

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Back to Work back to top 

Qantas Ordered Back In The Air

Australia's labor tribunal Sunday ordered Qantas to resume operations a day after the airline locked out its employees and ceased operations. The tribunal Fair Work Australia also put an end to rolling walkouts by three of the airline's unions, which Qantas officials say led to the unprecedented action. In a showdown with pilots, baggage handlers and maintenance workers, Qantas grounded its aircraft Saturday and threatened to start shutting the airline down unless the unions stopped the sporadic strikes that have disrupted operations. "If this action continues as the unions have promised, we will have no choice but to close down Qantas part by part," CEO Alan Joyce said Saturday. "The airline will be grounded as long as it takes to reach a conclusion." He called the work stoppages a "high-handed ambush." Meanwhile, the unions say they were similarly shocked at the airline's dramatic action. The Australian & International Pilots Association claimed the shutdown was "pre-meditated, unnecessary and grossly irresponsible." Qantas normally flies more than 60,000 pax a day on 108 aircraft from 22 destinations, including, of course, the major city of Perth, where some folks not likely used to having their travel plans disrupted were briefly stranded.

At least 17 countries scrambled to get their prime ministers and other government officials home from Perth. They're there to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, an annual get-together of 54 former British colonies, most of whom call Queen Elizabeth II their head of state but are otherwise sovereign nations. In addition to the 17 leaders and entourages who didn't have their own rides home, there were at least 700 journalists also depending on Qantas to get out of Perth. Aircraft were in the air within hours of the decision but it will take a day or two to resume the full schedule. All the unions are looking for more money and job security. Pilots want pay and benefits to transfer between the main airline and its budget spinoffs, maintenance workers want assurances the airline's new airplanes will be fixed in Australia, and the baggage handlers want to curb contracting out. The airline calls them "impossible demands."

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Aviation Safety I back to top 

Midair Splits Bonanza In Two

A twin-engine 1978 Piper PA-44-180 Seminole being flown Tuesday through maneuvers near Aurora State Airport, Oregon, collided with a flying Beech Bonanza V35, essentially cutting the single in half, sending its pieces to the ground and killing its pilot. The midair took place at about 4 p.m., in clear weather. The twin lost a section of its nose and was put down, safely, in a field. Its occupants, an instructor and student, walked away uninjured. The Beechcraft was piloted by retired Oregon State Police sergeant Stephen L. Watson. Debris from his aircraft came down over a one and one-half square-mile area, with the tail landing in a tree about a mile from the rest of the aircraft. Early reports appear to differ in their description of the initial collision.

A spokesman for the local Sheriff's office told Oregon Live that the Seminole had been making a series of rapid ascents and descents as part of training maneuvers, prior to coming down on the Bonanza. Upon impact, the Bonanza "was literally cut in two," according to the spokesman. But the NTSB's lead investigator on the case told the Seattle Times that witnesses said the two aircraft had been flying level at the time of impact. Investigators were not immediately aware if the pilots of the accident aircraft had been in radio contact with each other or air traffic controllers at the time of the collision. The surviving pilots have been interviewed and the investigation could last at least one year.

Oil Light Started Vancouver Crash Sequence

The pilot of a Northern Thunderbird Air King Air 100 that crashed in Vancouver last week told passengers they were turning back to the airport because of a minor oil leak in one engine. He notified the tower and said an emergency stand-by from the airport fire department wasn't necessary. Ten minutes later, while the aircraft was on a stable approach, it suddenly veered left and crashed on a perimeter road just outside the fence, injuring all seven passengers and two crew as well as two occupants of a car that was hit by wreckage. Pilot Luc Fortin, 44, later died from burns. "That's our challenge: to determine why what appeared to be a benign indicator problem turned into such a tragic event," Transportation Safety Board investigator Bill Yearwood told reporters. A passenger onboard said the pilots' body language belied their otherwise calm demeanor.

Interviewed in her hospital bed, where she was recovering from back and leg injuries, Carolyn Cross said she could see Fortin trembling at the controls, and as the aircraft neared the airport Fortin and his right-seat pilot, 26-year-old Matt Robic, "shot each other a look" before the plane turned and hit the road. Cross and the other six passengers were on their way to Kelowna, B.C., for an executive forum in nearby Vernon. Passersby are credited with saving many of the people onboard the twin. They used emergency fire extinguishers to subdue the fuel-fed fire enough to get inside the aircraft and pull six occupants out. The two pilots and a passenger were trapped for more than 15 minutes in the burning plane as firefighters emptied three truckloads of foam on it. The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder are being examined.

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Aviation Safety II back to top 

Inspector Gave Unauthorized Check Rides

Teterboro-based aviation safety inspector Harrington Bishop, 63, entered a guilty plea in a federal court Thursday on charges of receiving illegal gratuities in exchange for what court documents allege were hundreds of unauthorized pilot check rides. Bishop had been assigned to the Teterboro FSDO. On available days off, weekends, and holidays, from May 2004 to February 2011, he allegedly took pilots on check rides at Cave Flight School at Flying W Airport in Medford, N.J. Pilots who flew with him on those occasions ultimately numbered in the hundreds. None of the flights were authorized, each one illegally paid Bishop, and in almost every case a certificate was granted to the tested pilot.

Pilots were allegedly tested for anything from private to airline transport pilot certificates. Bishop allegedly collected tips that amounted to $300 per flight on average from the hundreds of pilots he managed to fly with over seven years. This, in spite of the fact that while acting in an official capacity, Bishop was not allowed to accept payment from pilots in exchange for his services. By Bishop's own account, he passed almost every pilot who flew with him on those occasions. Each pilot then became officially certificated by the FAA as a result of Bishop's work. The official charge against Bishop was one count of receiving illegal gratuities while acting as a public official. He now faces a maximum potential fine of $250,000 and up to two years in jail.

Laser Pointing Web Page Launched

The FAA has launched a page on its website to allow laser-pointing incidents to be reported online. Although penalties for shining a handheld laser at an aircraft have been beefed up (fines can be as high as $11,000) the number of reported incidents continues to climb. As of this month, there were about 2,800 reported incidents. Although there have been no reported crashes directly attributable to laser pointing, the FAA says it's serious business that warrants a serious response. "Lasers can distract or temporarily blind pilots who are trying to fly safely to their destinations and could compromise the safety of hundreds of passengers," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told delegates to an Airline Pilots Association-sponsored conference on the topic last week.

Phoenix appears to be the most popular place for laser target practice (96 incidents) followed by Philadelphia (95) and Chicago (83). Although lasers are regulated to some degree, high-powered pointers capable of causing eye irritation or damage at long distances are readily available, often under the guise of scientific use. There are some legitimate, although perhaps ill-advised, reasons to point a laser at the sky. Amateur astronomers use them to help them aim their telescopes.

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News Briefs back to top 

ELT Homes In On Rescuers

It's not often an ELT homes in on its would-be rescuers but that's the position Canadian search-and-rescue volunteers found themselves in last week. Members of the Regina, Saskatchewan chapter of the Civilian Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) hopped in a Cessna 172 to help a Canadian Forces search-and-rescue C-130 pinpoint the location of an ELT signal being broadcast from somewhere nearby. They quickly determined the signal was coming from a malfunctioning or accidentally activated ELT in the northern part of the city and returned to the airport to start a ground search. The Hercules went back to base. It was when the CASARA members were setting up their ground-based homing equipment that the story got more interesting.

The signal kept getting stronger and was off the scale when a courier truck pulled up to the avionics shop behind the hangar where the CASARA folks were tuning up their equipment. The ELT was inside a box dropped at the shop and contained an older-style ELT that lacked an on-off switch. The battery hadn't been removed and some rough handling triggered the signal. "We're effective here," CASARA spokesman Frank Schuurmans said. "The ELTs come to us."

Diamond Fleet Bounces Back After Hail Event

Diamond aircraft is using the outcome of an Oct. 17 hailstorm that ravaged Middle Tennessee State University's (MTSU's) 20 Diamond aircraft and 5 Pipers to tout the repairability of its composite airframes. Hail cracked one canopy during the storm and put two holes in composite wing skins while also pelting other airframes, including some metal ones, collected on the ramp at Murfreesboro Airport, Tenn. MTSU called in Diamond representatives to assess the damage and, according to MTSU's Dr. Wayne Dornan, "the metal aircraft are going to be AOG (aircraft on ground) for an extended period pending repairs, while the Diamond fleet is again fully operational." That outcome may be due in part to Diamond's response.

Diamond representatives arrived soon after the storm to assess damage and determined that all but four aircraft could be returned to service without repair. Most suffered mainly cosmetic damage. According to Diamond, three aircraft required repairs to wing skins and one suffered a cracked canopy.  According to Dornan, "The Diamond airframes suffered very little damage in comparison to the metal aircraft and the minimal structural damage that did occur was quickly repaired." Diamond uses low-temperature curing epoxy resin and a carbon matrix, as opposed to the high-temperature pre-preg composites used by many other composite aircraft manufacturers. The company says that difference in construction methods makes its aircraft "much easier" to inspect and repair in the field.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Fun with Parachute Mode

The Diamond DA40 has about the lowest accident rate in general aviation. One reason for this is its benign handling, as demonstrated by what Diamond calls "parachute mode." Paul Bertorelli's experienced it for himself and describes parachute mode in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Flight 447 -- Released Transcripts Put Air France in the Hot Seat

The transcript reveals confusion and dithering in the cockpit as the crew appears to have held the airplane into a persistent stall for three minutes or longer. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli predicts that Air France will have some explaining do to show why its pilots couldn't fly the airplane on raw data well enough to recover a stall.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

AVmail: October 31, 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: Experience Makes a Difference

At some point (my guess is around 3,000 hours) additional flight time matters little. Until then, the learning curve is pretty steep. Even highly and expensively trained military pilots struggle in high-density airports at peak hours while many low-time pilots are struggling with both the high-performance airplane and radio traffic even in relatively low-traffic situations.

As is true with flying at many different levels, the individual tasks are often not particularly difficult, but the multitude of tasks across a wide range of disciplines is much more difficult to accomplish, especially while maintaining good overall situational awareness. Ask any training or check pilot in the commuter industry what they face with low-time pilots (even from good college programs), and they will tell you a few individuals make the transition with relative ease but most are behind the power curve. Only experience with hard work will eventually overcome this.

Ask the captain of an airliner what pressures fall on him or her with a 300- or 500-hour pilot in the right seat in and out of airports like JFK, ORD, or LAX with less fuel than comfort would require during rush-hour operations, especially with low visibility and ceilings, and I expect you'll appreciate the difficulty of their job and the potential dangers involved.

Capt. John Snidow

Biofuel Progress

I noted your comment that "enzyme-based processes look particularly promising" for biofuel production and agree.

My daughter is working on her Ph.D. in chemistry at UC Berkeley. Her project is mostly funded by BP. She is trying to modify a known enzyme process so it will work at a reasonable temperature for large-scale production.

As with most research work, if she succeeds it will be years before BP can build a working factory -- and her work is only a piece of the puzzle. But an "oil company" is trying. I think of them as a "fuel company" rather than an oil company.

Don MacKenzie

A Mix of Old and New

Regarding the "Question of the Week": My VFR E-AB airplane has only glass instruments. They are less expensive than round ones and offer a lot more functionality.

I don't like PC-based aircraft instruments, such as iPad-based ones -- but I do like ones designed to be portable aviation devices, such as GPS. To be satisfactory for me, such devices must:

  1. Be mounted in the cockpit so they don't bounce around in turbulence.
  2. Be powered from the ship's main power system.
  3. Be designed as aircraft instruments rather than general purpose computers.

I've tried PC-based systems and found them almost O.K. for back-up functions like EFB charts and aides, but for actual flying I found them less than ideal.

Paul Mulwitz

I use a mix of electronics on the panel: aera portable, an iPad, and paper. A friend continuously points out that he has never seen paper crash, and neither have I!

Bob Glorioso

You left out what I'm sure is the most common configuration of aircraft today (ones that actually fly a lot of hours anyway): steam for primary guidance, certified electronics for nav and approaches, and portables for weather. (And, of course, an iPad for charts.)

Phil Ryder

I'm still on paper charts and a six-pack but rely on my GNSs. I'm looking for a good EFB system based on an Android tablet but haven't seen one yet.

Mike Platt

My steam gauges work just fine -- thank you. I will consider converting to glass when they need major maintenance. I would like to stop filing Jepps, however.

George Mattingly

Oxygen Facts

In your article on the F-22, you seemed to draw a distinction between oxygen deprivation and hypoxia. Your article said that the pilot "should only have been suffering symptoms of hypoxia before the aircraft reached safe altitudes."

In reality, hypoxia is oxygen deprivation, and its symptoms can range from tunnel vision, giddiness, [and] inability to focus on tasks to unconsciousness and death. The key issue is the term "time of useful consciousness." Depending on altitude, existing blood saturation with oxygen, and the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity (potentially compromised by toxins -- referred to as histotoxic hypoxia!), the pilot may have only a few seconds to recognize and correct a hypoxia situation.

In commercial aircraft, the FAA requires that the pilot be able to don the mask and have 100 percent oxygen flow within five seconds. That is also why, if one of the pilots is out of the cockpit, the other pilot is supposed to be on oxygen at all times.

A pilot who is already on oxygen in a fighter is assuming that his oxygen system is providing high-quality breathing oxygen. He may be slow to recognize his hypoxia symptoms in that case. Even a few seconds of delay may have been fatal.

Being able to recognize one's hypoxia symptoms is the reason that flight personnel in the USAF and USN are required to undergo periodic refresher rides in the altitude chamber. Recognizing one's personal symptoms and reacting immediately is key to survival.

My personal experience includes eight chamber rides, two major decompression events, thousands of hours in F-4/F-111/EA-6B, and experience selling oxygen systems.

J. C. Hall

Saving Flight 447

A simple angle of attack indicator added to primary flight instruments would have prevented this stall-related crash, which was initiated by unreliable airspeed read-outs. Of course, that does not exonerate the faulty pitot heat design!

John Carroll

Airport Politics and Safety

As I'm sure you will re-visit the events leading up to the midair crash in Oregon, I thought it might interest you that Aurora State Airport has been in line to have an FAA tower constructed for some time. It is one of the busiest airports in the area (third to Hillsboro and Portland) and likely the busiest non-towered airport in the state.

As I frequently fly into UAO, I can tell you there is a well-organized and highly vocal local contingent of residents who have nothing but contempt for this airport and have done whatever they could to block the construction of the tower. The argument has essentially been that construction of the tower would encourage more air traffic. I'm sure this accident will be used to bolster arguments against the tower in the local press when logic and common sense would bring one to exactly the opposite conclusion.

Anthony Nasr

Just Give Single Jets a Chance

Bravo to Tom Yarsley for the great argument he makes in favor of single-engine jets.

Those of us who are up in years can remember when the typical business aircraft was a piston twin like the Beechcraft Model 18. Then in the 1960s we started seeing bizjets like the Lockheed JetStar and North American Sabreliner. Business aviation was revolutionized when Bill Lear made "Learjet" part of our national lexicon.

Today we have business jets with straight and swept wings, and also both single and twin-engine turboprop planes. So why not give single engine jets a chance?

Alex Kovnat

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Pascan Aviation (CYHU, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

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

AVweb readers don't always pick the best time to try a new FBO, and that was certainly the case when Ray C. arrived at St. Hubert General Airport (CYHU) in Montreal, Quebec. Despite a flurry of construction activity and business demanding attention, the team Pascan Aviation impressed Ray by making time to get him in and out of the FBO in style — and that's why they're our latest "FBO of the Week"!

Here's what Ray had to say about Pascan:

When I arrived at Pascan aviation they were enlarging their ramp, and there was lots of activity with the construction. I flew in with a C-150, and immediately I was greeted by two rampies who were helpful. One got my rental car, and the other fueled my plane. Julie the receptionist was so helpful; she got me a great room in a hotel downtown. Overall, [despite] the activity going on that day — there was also a Challenger on the ramp — I feel like I got the best service possible. The fuel price was great, and the ramp fee was waived with the fuel purchase. I will be going back there one day soon, that's for sure.

Cheap and friendly — words that are great to a pilot.

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 

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

While ferrying an airplane from Michigan to Florida, we heard a friendly exchange between a male controller and a female pilot. The pilot was not having a great day and was not too happy about flying.

"At least you have a nice view. I'm stuck in a dark room just looking at guys."

"It's not much better up here, sir."

My female pilot and I both burst out laughing.

Stephen Ritter
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.)

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