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Investigators have ruled out weather as a factor in the crash that killed two Oklahoma State University basketball coaches and determined that the Cherokee 180 involved hit the ground nose-first.
The crash killed OSU Cowgirls coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna. The pilot and aircraft owner, former state senator Olin Branstetter, and his wife Paula were also killed. The aircraft
crashed about 4:30 p.m. in mountainous terrain 45 miles northwest of Little Rock, Ark. NTSB investigator Jason Aguilera told The Oklahoman the nose-down attitude leads to inescapable speculation on the flight's final moments.
"That's pretty significant," he said. "That makes us feel as though there's a good chance there was a loss of control prior to impact." And while there's no initial indication that the size and type
of aircraft had any bearing on the crash, size is apparently all that matters for OSU and other schools now assessing the transportation policies for staff and students.
OSU already has strict rules in place governing aircraft used for transporting student athletes after a 2001 crash killed 10 members of the men's football team. The minimum standard is a
twin-engine turboprop (the 2001 crash plane was a King Air 200) and it must be rented from a charter service that has been vetted by the school's own aviation consultant. Aircraft privately owned by
school benefactors are not to be used. However, there is some question whether that rule applies when coaches and other staff travel for recruiting (as was the case Thursday) and other athletic
business. Branstetter, 82, was a longtime OSU supporter who donated the money to start an aviation program at the school. He was also a longtime pilot who had flown the aircraft involved in Thursday's
crash over the North Pole in 1984. The FAA said his medical was current and he had a clean flying record.
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A committee chartered by the FAA has determined that the FAA has yet to make a business case for mandated near-term ADS-B equipage and recommends the FAA not pursue such a mandate at this time. The
Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) In Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) was formed in June 2010. Its mission is, in part, to "provide recommendations that clearly define how the
community should proceed with ADS-B In while ensuring compatibility with ADS-B Out." The ARC has concluded that "many of the ADSB In applications show significant promise, but additional
development and analysis are necessary before aircraft operators can justify investment or implementation decisions." As per its charter, the committee did offer ideas to change that.
The ARC recommends the FAA demonstrate achievable benefits to the user community of ADS-B In that may be implemented "in a cost-effective manner." One challenge faced by the FAA right now is that
ADS-B In applications have not yet matured to the point where achievable benefits can be defined with certainty, according to the committee. Also, certification and operational approval guidance are
not "sufficiently mature to enable widespread manufacture of avionics" in roles that might support an equipage mandate. The committee recommends that the FAA address these challenges through basic
field trials that "validate key assumptions and benefits" and use that experience to relate the benefits of equipage to the user community. Those efforts will require the FAA to direct funding toward
maturing standards guidance and regulation of ADS-B equipment. Click here to read the ARC's full report (PDF).
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Lion Air, a private Jakarta-based airline, has signed a commitment to order 230 Boeing aircraft with a street value of $21.7 billion -- Boeing's latest clean-sheet design, the 787, is not
represented in the order. The order consists of 201 737 MAX single-aisle airliners (aircraft that are expected to first enter service in 2017) and 29 extended range 737-900ER jets, plus options for
150 more aircraft. Even without the options, those figures make this the largest deal Boeing has ever negotiated with a carrier by number of aircraft and dollar amount. The deal coincides with a visit
to Indonesia by President Obama ... and one potentially relevant lawsuit brought Wednesday by the Airline Transport Association.
The ATA is arguing that low-rate loan guarantees provided to overseas carriers like Lion Air allow those foreign airlines significant financial advantages in commercial competition. The lawsuit
addresses its complaint against entities like Ex-Im Bank -- the one credited by Mr. Obama for facilitating Boeing's deal with Lion Air. ATA says Ex-Im allows foreign carriers to buy and finance jets
at rates that may be half of those paid by U.S. carriers in similar transactions. Aside from the president's comments, it is not clear at this time what role Ex-Im played in the Lion Air Deal. The
Wall Street Journal reported Friday that an Ex-Im Bank official said the bank's involvement did not yet include financial backing. At more than 460, Boeing's 2011 net order sheet has passed its
estimate for production this year. Nearly all the orders are for 777 and 737 variants.
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A New York Times columnist says he'll continue fighting a court ruling stemming from his coverage of a 2006 plane crash in Brazil even though the proceedings might seem ludicrous in the U.S. Joe
Sharkey was onboard the Legacy 600 business jet that collided with a GOL Boeing 737, causing the airliner to crash and killing all 154 people aboard. Pilots of the damaged Legacy were able to land
safely and all seven people aboard were uninjured. The pilots, Joe Lepore and Jan Paladino, were subsequently convicted of negligence and sentenced to four years of house arrest in absentia. Last week
a Brazilian appeals court overturned a lower court's dismissal of defamation charges brought against Sharkey by the widow of one of the GOL passengers. The suit was based on a peculiarity of Brazilian
jurisprudence that allows individuals to file suit if the country itself is dishonored by the publication of material deemed defamatory. In a podcast
interview with AVweb, Sharkey says the case is difficult to grasp in the U.S. and other countries in which freedom of speech and the press are taken for granted, but it's become an ongoing
drain on his time and money as he fights to clear his name, even if it is in Brazil. "The First Amendment means something to me," Sharkey, a longtime beat reporter and columnist, said.
Notwithstanding the premise behind the charges, Sharkey insists he's not guilty anyway. He said he never wrote anything defamatory about Brazil or the plaintiff in the case. Rather, the defamatory
comments cited in the action were taken from the thousands of reader comments generated by news stories and other commentary on the accident and the legal fallout. For instance, one of the allegations
in the case is that he called Brazil "a banana." Sharkey said that he's pretty sure he could do better than that if he intended to insult the country. Meanwhile, he said a larger issue is the
potential impact of the case on his ability to travel and the intrusion on his private life. He said process servers working on behalf of Brazilian lawyers have visited his former home in New Jersey
and his current residence in Arizona. "They always come late at night," he said.
A Brazil appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling that cleared New York Time columnist Joe Sharkey in a strange lawsuit resulting from his coverage of the tragedy. In an interview
with AVweb's Russ Niles, Sharkey says he'll keep fighting, even if it means more late-night visits from Brazilian-paid process servers.
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Danie Minnie was flying a Cessna Citation Mustang on Nov. 12, out of Bloemfontein for Johannesburg, South Africa, when he suffered an aneurysm -- he landed the plane safely but did not survive the
larger event. Minnie, 43, suffered symptoms that included vomiting and paralysis that affected his left side. He contacted controllers who found him sounding confused. The pilot elected to return to
his less populated point of departure. Minnie's brother, also a pilot, and his wife were at the airport to meet him when he landed. A local news station reported that Minnie "managed a perfect
landing." Paramedics then took more than 40 minutes to remove Minnie from the aircraft as his condition worsened.
According to local news reports, Minnie was able to grab and kiss the hand of his wife as he told her that he loved her, but showed difficulty in his speech. At some point, Minnie also contacted
the client he had been dispatched to retrieved and told the man that he'd lost feeling in his left side. Minnie later lost consciousness. He was admitted to intensive care and was declared brain dead
two days later. Minnie's story has served as a local inspiration. He was remembered online at Iflyafrica.com as one of South Africa's most competent pilots and a man whose efforts in his final hours
touched the hearts of many.
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After enduring a nine-hour ground delay, one might think the last thing passengers would want is to stay on the aircraft after it arrived at its destination. That was the situation facing Hong Kong
Airlines staff last week when more than 50 passengers refused to get off the flight when it finally arrived in Hong Kong from Singapore. The passengers staged the sit-in to protest what they
considered inadequate compensation for the original delay, which was caused by a mechanical fault on the aircraft. They left the plane after 90 minutes and continued the protest inside the airport
until the airline agreed to pay them about $150 instead of the $50 originally offered. Almost exactly the opposite occurred in Vienna last week when passengers had to dig into their wallets to
continue their flight to England.
The Comtel flight originated in Amritsar and was headed for Birmingham when it made a fuel stop in Vienna, the airline's home base. Comtel couldn't pay for the fuel needed for the flight to England
so passengers were told they had to come up with $34,000 between themselves to top the 757's tanks. Those who didn't have cash on them were escorted to ATMs in the terminal to withdraw the money. The
plane and its unhappy passengers made it to Birmingham and Comtel blamed the incident on late payments from travel agents, After first promising compensation to the passengers, the airline abruptly
declared bankruptcy, leaving another 180 customers stranded in India.
The Nov. 16 flight of Indianapolis-based Chautauqua Airlines operated as Delta Flight 6132, an ERJ-145 out of Asheville for LaGuardia, took a turn for the unusual when the captain stepped out of
the cockpit and failed to return as expected. The flight was carrying 14 passengers and was progressing normally until, about 30 minutes from a holding pattern for LaGuardia, the captain left the
cockpit to use the lavatory and got stuck there. Unable to force the door open, the captain pounded until he acquired the attention of a passenger. The captain endowed that passenger with his
confidence and a message for the copilot. However, when the copilot received the message, recordings archived at LiveATC.net clearly show the copilot did not apply the same confidence to the
messenger. "Someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit," the copilot tells controllers, "and I'm not about to let him in."
After hearing the initially sketchy details, a voice on frequency offered advice: "OK, Chautauqua, you guys ought to declare an emergency and just get on the ground." Fortunately, that wasn't
necessary. Some minutes later, the captain won his contest with lavatory door and was able to return to the cockpit. The helpful passenger remained in the cabin and the aircraft landed safely without
further incident. In a written statement, Chautauqua said, "The first officer did the right thing in securing the flight deck when he was not able to personally confirm the status of the aircraft's
captain." It continued, "No one was ever in danger, and everyone, including the good Samaritan who tried to help the captain, as well as the crew, are to be commended for their actions."
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In last week's blog, Paul Bertorelli opined about the $900,000 fine levied against American Eagle for busting the DOT's three-hour ramp delay rule. He asked for some feedback from the airline
community, and in his latest post to the AVweb Insider, he says he got just that.
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: Online Chart Fees
With budget deficits in the trillions, no one can deny that our government has a problem with spending. So the ruckus in
the aviation community because the government wants to cover its costs in producing and distributing aeronautical data seems to me a symptom of what got us here.
Everyone is for cutting the cost of government, so long as it doesn't affect their benefits. At the end of the day, that attitude will not solve our budget problems. It is hard to argue that we
in aviation don't benefit greatly from the government. From the millions spent on infrastructure at the 5,000 GA airports to data, weather, FSS, ATC the list goes on.
While we do pay for some of that with the tax on avgas, I am confident that it doesn't come close to covering the total benefit we receive. To solve the budget crisis, funding changes will have to
be made. Rather than fight every proposal for change like it is the end of the world, I would encourage the flying community and AOPA, EAA and NBAA specifically to proactively evaluate
and choose which changes are most palatable and affect the least number of users.
They should offer those up, while fighting to save [us from] those that have the most negative impact to flying. I will gladly pay another $75 per year to have IFR data if it means I can avoid
user fees on every IFR flight. AOPA and EAA need to show leadership in helping to solve this problem rather than blindly objecting to every proposal. Change is coming; we can either embrace it and
try to manage it, or we can be run over by it.
We got a huge response to our coverage of the FAA's plan to charge for and limit access to its online chart products. We couldn't run all of the notes, but we hope what follows is representative
of opinions expressed.
Russ Niles Editor-in-Chief
I won't mind paying for charts if the fuel tax goes down to compensate. Of course that isn't going to happen, so this is just another stealth tax from big government. Time to occupy the FAA!
I've been a Jepp paper subscriber for years but now have an iPad and intend to drop my Jepp subscription. The raise in price for ForeFlight (which I intend to use) will just mean I don't save as
much money. But will save in update time.
Maybe I will just quit flying. I have only owned a personal/sport plane and been a commercial/airline pilot for 40 years. They won't miss me.
I bought an iPad two weeks ago, precisely for this particular use, and subscribed to both WingX and Foreflight. Now I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!
H. Paul Shuch
It seems these fees will benefit Garmin and Jeppesen, as many will put away their Android and iPad apps. We need the competition to keep data rates in check, but I'm not opposed to a very modest
free. I'm an Android Galaxy Tab user.
In Defense of Instructors
In regards to Louis Hastings' letter, I have a few words back. As a type-rated multi-engine ATP with CFI, CFII, MEI and ACR
privileges, I would like to say that training times have more to do with today's flying environment than the aircraft used.
Gone are the days when you fly from a grass strip in an airplane with no complicated systems. (Louis not many people learn in C-150s anymore.) Have you even heard of NOTAMs and TFRs? Back
in the days of old, no one was going to send up a fighter if you got too close to a sporting event. I invite Mr. Hastings and anyone else who thinks flight schools are milking students to open up the
FARs and advisory circulars and read what a flight instructor must make sure his/her student knows before that student can solo.
Since our endorsement of said student's log book is a legal statement, ask yourself how far you are willing to stick your neck (and your family's financial well-being) out for a student in today's
legal environment if you are not 100 percent certain they can repeatably perform to standard?
What is the most common statement after a student screws something up? "My instructor never taught/told me that." Don't believe me? Ask a DPE.
In response to Louis Hastings' question on training in a Taylorcraft compared to a Cessna 150 and the time it now takes to solo: As flight instructors, we have a whole litany of items to be taught
to our students before they are allowed to solo.
This list of subjects to be taught can be found in the FAR's Part 61. The list is very comprehensive and is dictated by law. I have no quarrel with what needs to be taught a flight student before
he is allowed to solo; I am merely suggesting this is the main reason it takes much longer to reach the goal of solo today, and it has been this way for more than three decades. It's all in the name
of safety for our students as well as for the rest of our aviation community.
A Taxing Question
Your article on the suit was the first I had heard regarding any ticket taxes being collected on "private" flights, meaning
non-Part 121 operations. So are ticket taxes collected on all Part 135 operations? Is the logical extension to collect on all Part 91 operations? After all, it is just transportation.
Pay by the Pound?
When are the airlines going to start selling tickets and seats by the pound? There are so many fat folks that take up most of two seats to the substantial discomfort of everyone else that
something has to be done. When are they going to put in at least some large seats and make big people pay for their size and not punish the rest of us?
How about for anyone weighing more than 250 pounds, you pay for a bigger seat five across instead of six? Too big for one seat? Then pay the 50% premium for taking half of another
regular-size seat. The more you weigh, the more it costs to fly you. Pay for it.
Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.
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Our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is conducting a survey on owner experiences with early model EFIS systems such as the Garmin G1000 and Avidyne Entegra installed in OEM aircraft no
newer that 2007. The magazine is interested in finding out how these systems have held up in the field. For this survey, we're interested only in OEM aircraft, not experimentals or LSAs and not
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 email@example.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Galaxy Aviation at St. Augustine Airport (KSGJ) in St. Augustine, Florida.
AVweb reader Joe Jenkina recommended the FBO:
When my wife and I flew in in our 182, we were greeted as if we were flying a jet. Kathy, Juan, and all the staff made sure our car was out on the ramp with the A/C on. Everyone we encountered from
the Galaxy staff was courteous, and I recommend them to anyone flying into KSGJ.
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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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.
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.
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.
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:
Publisher Timothy Cole
Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
Editor-in-Chief Russ Niles
Contributing Editors Mary Grady Glenn Pew
Features Editor Kevin Lane-Cummings
Webmaster Scott Simmons
Contributors Jeff van West Mariano Rosales
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