AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 46b

November 17, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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GA Responds To New FAA Fees

News reported by AVweb on Monday that the FAA plans to start charging for digital aeronautical data that is now available free brought quick reaction this week from the GA community. The board of the IMC Club, based in Norwood, Mass., posted an online petition at the White House website expressing opposition to the change. EAA said on Wednesday the news has "pilots everywhere up in arms." AOPA said the news has "sparked concern" throughout the industry. "We are anxious to see the FAA's proposal and will work to mitigate any impact on our members," said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airspace and modernization. Representatives from the industry and the FAA will meet on December 13 in Maryland to discuss the policy. Changes are not scheduled to take effect until April 5 of next year.

If the IMC Club's online petition can accumulate enough signatures by December 14, White House staff will review it, ensure that it's sent to the appropriate policy experts for review, and issue an official response. The current threshold to trigger a review is 25,000 signatures.

Related Content:

AVweb Insider Blog: That Great Black Hole in the Panel

Having spent multiple thousands for new glass, some owners are shocked at how the database costs add up. And with the FAA poised to start charging for its heretofore free digital flight data, the needle may be going in the wrong direction. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli opines that this could eventually become a drag on sales and ownership, if it isn't already.

Read more and join the conversation.

Question of the Week: Do You Use Consumer Electronics for Flight Data?

We're trying to gauge the impact of the FAA's decision to start charging for online flight data downloads.

How will the end of free flight data from the FAA affect you?
(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.)

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Passengers' Bill of Rights, Airlines' Giant Bill back to top 

First Fine For Ramp Delay

American Eagle has been fined $900,000 for holding passengers on the ramp for more than three hours, the Department of Transportation said on Monday. This is the first time a fine has been assessed since the "tarmac-delay rule" went into effect in April 2010. American Eagle, a regional carrier affiliated with American Airlines, kept 608 passengers on board 15 flights for delays of up to 3 hours and 45 minutes at O'Hare International Airport on May 29. "We wanted to make sure the penalty was sufficient enough to send a message to other airlines that our first enforcement sets a precedent, and that these are serious matters," DOT Secretary Ray LaHood told The New York Times. It could have been worse -- under the law, the airline could have been fined $27,500 for each passenger, totaling $16.7 million for the violation.

Under its agreement with DOT, the airline must pay $650,000 within 30 days, and up to $250,000 can be credited for refunds, vouchers, and frequent-flyer mile awards. The airline also was ordered to "cease and desist from future violations" of the rule. The DOT says since it enacted the rule, only 20 delays longer than three hours have been reported, and none were more than four hours long. However, a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office showed an increase in flight cancellations since the implementation of the rule. To try to address the problem, the DOT and FAA announced they will hold an industry forum on Nov. 30 to find better ways to handle aircraft diversions during the coming winter weather. "During severe weather situations, we want to do everything we can to make sure passengers are flown to airports that are ready and prepared and where passengers can get off the plane quickly," said LaHood.

Related Content:

AVweb Insider Blog: Ramp Delays — Educate Us

The DOT decided to get the airlines' attention by fining American Eagle $900,000 for ramp delays longer than three hours. It sure succeeded, but now the airlines may be canceling more flights as a result. If you're a passenger, you live in the Village of the Damned — and in his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli asks though in the know to explain why the airlines are having such a hard time hitting the target on this new requirement.

Read more and join the conversation.

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FAA, Light Sport Market Still Sussing Out Standards back to top 

FAA Seeks "Accountability" From LSA Industry

An FAA official expressed concern at a recent industry meeting that light sport aircraft manufacturers need to do a better job of documenting their compliance with ASTM standards, EAA said last week. Earl Lawrence, the manager of the FAA Small Airplane Directorate, said it's important to get these basic tasks done right if the category is to be expanded, as some in the industry have proposed. The FAA is not interested in replacing the ASTM process with FAA certification, Lawrence said, but wants to see a successful, industry-led compliance and audit system in place. Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, told AVweb that LAMA has proposed mandatory third-party audits to address these issues.

Johnson said he believes the industry will rise to Lawrence's suggestion, and "will self-govern as intended." The LSA industry is only seven years old, he added, "which may seem like a long time, but the industry has accomplished an enormous amount of work in those years." FAA officials have found the safety record "acceptable," he said, though Lawrence said the FAA would like to see the LSA sector achieve a fatal accident rate equivalent or better than the existing "personal aviation" rate. After the recent meeting, Lawrence sent a letter (PDF) to all LSA manufacturers to be sure they are informed of the FAA's expectations.

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Aviation Safety — From Airline Pilots' POV back to top 

United Pilots Cite Safety Concerns

United Airlines pilots Tuesday released a 105-page report that blames lapses in flight safety on new procedures and poor training, according to The Associated Press. The report came from the pilots' union, the Air Line Pilots Association. The union is currently working through contract negotiations with United. In September, the union sought a judge's ruling to block the new training procedures. At that time, the union said the FAA was not properly monitoring safety. According to the new report, new procedures are so distracting that three separate flight crews almost landed gear up while trying to negotiate checklists. United management has a different opinion.

United says the union's claims may be designed to influence contract negotiations. According to the company, the union "has a history of taking steps to disrupt the operations of the airline." United is working to merge with Continental. The company is working to obtain from the FAA a single operating certificate by the end of 2011. The union says the airline is rushing that process and rushing training.  According to the union, the airline is training pilots with virtual slideshows instead of putting crews in simulators or classrooms.

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Fractions, Percentages, and High-Stakes Accounting back to top 

NetJets Subsidiaries Sue IRS

Four subsidiaries of NetJets are suing the IRS for a total of $643 million, saying that the agency wrongly applied ticket tax to the private flight operations they manage. According to the subsidiary companies, they do not act to transport the people that own the aircraft they manage but act as agents to assist owners in transporting themselves. The ticket tax, say the companies, should not apply to private owners or fees paid to operate and maintain privately owned aircraft. And by that argument, the IRS owes them.

The suit says that the IRS "stuck" the companies with "a $642 million-plus bull for past taxes the IRS never indicated they were required to collect and for which they are not even the actual taxpayers. The IRS is reviewing the suit and, per its policy, is not offering comments on the pending litigation. The taxes were first applied in 2003. Through the suit, the companies are now seeking back payment of the taxes, with interest. Companies represented by the lawsuit are Executive Jet Management Inc., NetJets International Inc., NetJets Large Aircraft Inc. and NetJets Aviation Inc.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Takeover Secures D-JET

The CEO of Diamond Aircraft's Canadian operations in London, Ontario, says the takeover of the company is good news for the workers and will ensure the D-JET gets to market. It was announced Monday that a majority interest in Diamond was acquired by Medrar Financial Group, of Dubai, for an undisclosed sum. In an interview with the London Free Press on Tuesday, Peter Maurer said the company will benefit in several ways from the purchase. "This gives us the financial strength to complete the (D-JET) program," Maurer said. "We're getting expertise in business and the financial side." Diamond has 220 workers at the London plant and Maurer said another 200 could be added if the D-JET sells well. The deal also includes the piston products made by the company.

Diamond has had a rough time of it in the past few years. On top of the general malaise that has hit the small airplane market, Diamond spent a lot of money rescuing its diesel-engine aircraft business from the insolvency of engine supplier Thielert. The company developed its own engine, the Austro, and is still retrofitting the diesel fleet with the in-house engine. With piston sales at their lowest in decades late last year, the company applied for funding from the Canadian government to finish development and certification of the D-JET. After a protracted and testy controversy that got wrapped up in a Canadian election campaign, the loan was turned down. In June of 2011 it was announced that Diamond had found private financing for the D-JET but the investor was never identified and it's still not known if it was Medrar.

Indian Airlines In Crisis

Depressing financial results from India's second largest airline Tuesday intensified debate about the future of the industry and the level of government involvement. Kingfisher Airlines, owned by liquor mogul Vijay Mallya, who flirted briefly with financing Epic Aircraft in 2007, is drowning in high-interest debt and losing money and Mallya says the answer is to ease government regulations, specifically those banning foreign airlines from investing in domestic airlines. The government is torn between bailing out Kingfisher and other airlines that are also in tough shape to save face or let the market determine the winners and losers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, only one Indian Airline, budget carrier IndiGo, is profitable. The others have fallen victim to high fuel prices, debt costs, currency exchange and a withering fare war that has slashed revenue. Mallya said he's cutting unprofitable routes and trimming costs where he can but he needs government help, such as a reduction in state taxes on aviation fuel. "It is a very challenging environment," he said. "The state governments are enjoying windfall profits directly at the cost of the aviation industry ... This is something that needs serious attention of our state governments and our central government."

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

Correction: Qantas Upset Was Old News

A story that appeared in Monday's edition of AVwebFlash concerning the upset of a Qantas aircraft appeared in error. That incident happened in 2008 and should not have been reported as current news. Our thanks go to the sharp-eyed readers who alerted us to the gremlin and enabled us to quickly remove the erroneous story from circulation. For those of you who saw it anyway, we apologize for the error.

Russ Niles

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

Video: Premier Edition Diamond DA40 Flight Trial

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

Diamond's DA40 Star is a popular entry-level and midspeed cruiser, but it lacks air conditioning and other options. Fort Lauderdale's Premier Aircraft added a rich options list to the airplane, and in this report, Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli took a trial flight.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Video: Jeppesen's Mobile FliteDeck (Part 1)

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

Last summer, Jeppesen rolled out its iPad-based Mobile FliteDeck, a complete chart manager system for owners who already subscribe to Jeppesen's electronic charting products. In this video, AVweb launches the first of three Product Minutes to review the new app.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Video: Jeppesen's Mobile FliteDeck (Part 2)

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

Jeppesen's new Mobile FliteDeck is a route-based app that compiles approach plates and procedures from Jeppesen's charting materials. In this video, part two of three, Paul Bertorelli takes a look at how its route functions work.

Don't see a video screen?
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If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Yelvington Jet Aviation, Inc. (Daytona Beach, FL)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Yelvington Jet Aviation Inc. at Daytona Beach International Airport (KDAB) in Daytona Beach, Florida.

AVweb reader Dave Gillespie nominated the FBO and shared his outstanding experience if memory of the FBO's manager, Mike Fuller:

We landed our helicopter and were met by a beautiful young lady marshaller, then picked up by FBO manager Mike Fuller and delivered to the front door to a waiting Suburban, whereupon we were given an escort around the airport to the entry gate by two Daytona Beach motorcycle policmen! We were even given a cell to call for our return trip. Mike's courteous and exceptional service was the best I've ever seen in over 35 years flying. He will be missed. He was unfortunatly killed last weekend in a T-34 accident. The FBO community and aviation as a whole has lost one of the best. Godspeed, Mike.

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!

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

A Double Dose of "Picture of the Week"

We're playing catch-up this week and have a two-fer of reader-submitted pictures. Two winners! Almost fifty new photos! An extra-long lapse in productivity at our readers' offices! Click on each of the thumbnails below to view the galleries.

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Don Parsons of St. Peters, MO. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Jeremy Wheeler of Wichita, KS. 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.