AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 47b

November 24, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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China To Open More Airspace

Chinese authorities said last week they plan to open up nearly one-third of the country's airspace to general aviation flights next year, on a trial basis. Starting in January, airspace below 1,000 meters in northeastern, central, and southern China will be open, as well as the airspace above six pilot cities, according to China Daily. The new policy aims to stimulate the sales and use of private aircraft. Currently, private flights in China are hampered by the need for prior approvals that are complex and time-consuming.

The move "signals China's determination to boost general aviation as its strategic new industry," Chen Yilong, one of the country's first private jet owners, told Xinhua. "Every Chinese nouveau riche who tries to fly has had illegal 'black flying' experiences. The news of expanding low-altitude airspace makes us excited and relieved." Chen said he was able to gain official approvals to fly his jet for only 2.5 hours in all of 2010. Aviation infrastructure is also scarce, but with easier access to airspace, more investment in airports and fuel facilities is expected. At the recent AOPA China Summit held in Beijing, government officials expressed a strong interest in developing the GA industry in China over the next five to 10 years. The country also has shown a strong interest in acquiring GA companies, buying up Cirrus, Teledyne Continental Motors, and several smaller manufacturers in recent years. Last month, AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with Jason Liao, the founder and CEO of China Business Aviation Group, who believes China could become the world's largest market for business aviation by 2018. Listen to that interview here.

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An Unorthodox Landing back to top 

Pilot Mistakes Road For Runway

click for larger image

It's not unusual for a pilot to land on a road in an emergency situation, but this week in Florida, a pilot mistook a road for a nearby runway, and landed there in his fully functional Cirrus SR22. The 23-year-old private pilot wasn't hurt, but the airplane hit a couple of mailboxes and a fence, damaging the prop and the wings. "I've never had an incident like this," Pasco County Sheriff's Sergeant Leslie Strube told the local Fox news station. "He indicated he thought he was landing over at Pilot Country [a nearby residential airstrip], and once he was on the ground, he realized he was in the wrong spot." A look at Google Maps shows that the long straight road in the equestrian development where the pilot put down is on a similar heading and close to the same length and width as the runway about a mile to the west.

Dave Torro, a resident of the subdivision, told Tampa Bay Online he was backing out of his driveway on Tuesday morning with his 11-year-old daughter in the car when he saw the Cirrus land "right in front of me" and continue down the street. "We watched mailbox after mailbox fly into the air," he said. The pilot told Torro that he got his certificate just five months ago. The FAA is investigating.

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Air Race Update back to top 

Return Of Red Bull Air Races Delayed

When the Red Bull Air Races were canceled for the 2011 season, it was expected to be a one-year hiatus, but now officials are saying the races won't return until 2013. "There will be no races in 2012," spokeswoman Nadja Zele told RGJ.com. "A revamped concept and a fixed race calendar will be revealed in 2013. … Currently a core team is working intensively to bring Red Bull Air Race back better than ever." The Times of India recently reported that race organizers have been conferring with officials in Mumbai about staging a race there for the 2013 season.

The three-day Mumbai race would be one of 10 events held in cities around the world, according to the Times. Up to 24 pilots would compete, and a quarter-mile-long folding runway would be used by the race pilots. After several delays in host-city negotiations during the 2010 season, the organization announced in August of that year that it would take a year off to "revise the main organization ... [and develop] strong host city partnerships." No pilots have been hurt during the races, but one airplane hit the water during a race in Australia during the last season.

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Bigger Isn't Always Better for the Really Heavy Iron back to top 

Big Demand For Smaller Boeing, Airbus Jets

United Airlines, which now includes Continental Airlines, is reportedly in talks with major manufacturers to order up to 200 aircraft made up of Boeing and Airbus models, possibly by year-end. The news, reported this week separately by both Reuters and Bloomberg, comes hot on the heals of a "largest ever" order for 230 Boeing aircraft announced last week by Jakarta-based airline Lion Air, and a July order from Delta and AMR. The July deal accounted for 460 aircraft split as 260 from Airbus and 200 from Boeing. Industry analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group says U.S. carriers have been lured by re-engined narrow-body airliners that offer them competitive advantage. Aboulafia believes carriers are now jockeying for early positions. United may be considering other factors, as well.

United currently operates about 710 aircraft, of which 550 are single-aisle jets. Its fleet includes 137 Boeing 757-200 aircraft (with an average age of over 17 years) and 34 737-500 aircraft (at an average age of nearly 15 years). "These carriers want to get in line before the early production slots fill up," Aboulafia told Bloomberg news Wednesday. Boeing has updated its 737, the world's most flown jetliner, and now offers the more efficient 737 MAX. Airbus has upgraded its own top seller, the A320, offering it as the A320neo. The aircraft are expected to enter service in 2017 and 2015, respectively, and both list for close to $90 million per copy. Airlines typically purchase in bulk, taking discounts that reduce the price per copy. United flies a mix of Airbus and Boeing jets. In 2010 it merged with Continental, which has flown Boeing aircraft for the past two decades.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Pilot's Helmet-Cam Films Fatal Crash

One of two low-time pilots used a helmet-camera and filmed the crash that killed them both on July 10, 2010, near Oxfordshire, England, according to testimony by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). The information came to light in court and was reported by British news sources this week. Both pilots had less than 200 hours of flight time with some aerobatic training when they attempted a roll in a modified 1946 Stampe biplane. According to the coroner, the video confirms that the pilot who wore the helmet-cam was front-seat, but it does not help identify who was flying the aircraft. Investigators say the pair lost control at 3,500 feet and entered an inverted spin. AAIB senior  inspector Andrew Blackie said the pair would have had 15 seconds to recover.

The Stampe was equipped with dual controls. Blackie testified at Oxfordsdshire Coroner's Court, saying, "Neither of them had enough experience to recover from an inverted spin at that altitude," the DailyRecord.co.uk reported. The entire event, from beginning the roll to impact with trees, took about 37 seconds, according to investigators. The investigation found no pre-impact mechanical faults with the aircraft, which it said was in good condition prior to the crash. Blackie noted, "You want to have enough height from the ground to sort out anything that goes wrong, but if you were to go any higher, you would be in the airspace that is reserved for the aircraft coming out of Heathrow." He added, "It is not a place that I would choose to do aerobatics."

NTSB: Cause Of Fatal Air Show Crash Unclear

Evidence shows that the engine quit on Kyle Franklin's Waco during an air show in March, but NTSB investigators had no luck finding out why, according to the board's final report, published this week. Franklin's wife, Amanda, who performed as a wingwalker in the show, suffered extensive burns in the forced landing and died about two months later. "Post-accident examination of the engine and its fuel system revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operations," the NTSB concluded.

The NTSB says that according to Franklin, the airplane was trailered to the air show venue and then assembled for flight. The day prior to the accident, Franklin completed a solo show, and during the taxi back to the ramp with the throttle at idle, the engine quit. The airplane was towed to the ramp for inspection. After completing a visual inspection of the engine with no problems noted, Franklin test-ran the engine at various power settings for about 15 minutes. No anomalies with the engine were noted during the test run. About an hour before the accident flight, Franklin flew a solo performance with no problems. About 15 minutes before the accident flight, an engine run-up and magneto check found no issues, but about five minutes in the the performance, the engine lost power.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

"Unified Voice" Sought In FAA Chart Issue

AOPA says it's hoping to organize a "unified voice" from aviation chart providers for a Dec. 13 meeting in which the FAA will lay out at least some of its plans to restructure the distribution of online navigation data. As AVweb reported Nov. 13, the FAA intends to stop universal free access to online products hosted by AeroNav. Instead, as of April 5, 2012, only entities with signed distribution agreements will have access to the downloads and there will be an as-yet undisclosed fee for those downloads. In a posting on its website Tuesday, AOPA said it met with FAA officials in August and October and will bring the issue up again at an open house being held Dec. 6, a week ahead of the meeting with stakeholders. The FAA has so far barred the media from attending the Dec. 13 meeting.

The FAA has said that it must cover the costs incurred by the creation, hosting and distribution of the online products but it has also said safety is an issue in that it currently has no way of ensuring the integrity of the information after it has been downloaded. By making distributors sign an agreement to ensure the charts are not altered or information left out, it says it will enhance safety. But AOPA says it and the industry are concerned that limiting availability to the information will have the opposite effect and actually create flight safety issues. The relatively new industry that has grown up around creating chart and navigation apps for consumer electronics (like iPads) is concerned the fees will force them to price their products out of the market and leave it open to larger entities and companies to corner the online market for chart and nav products. In our interview with the FAA, they made it clear they in no way want to stifle the industry, create a monopoly or duopoly, or compromise safety. However, when we asked them what would happen if the minimum amount the FAA needs to recoup its costs in producing charts is more than the industry currently can pay, they could offer no answer or contingency plan.

Skycatcher Price Climbs, Standard Features Added

Cessna has decided there will be no plane-Jane Skycatchers and is boosting the base price of the aircraft from $114,000 to a more feature-laden $149,000. However, less than half of the hefty increase is due to making things like an MFD, intercom and sun visor standard, features Cessna says most customers were ordering anyway. Cessna's Dianne White told EAA that about $20,000 of the increase is required to make the aircraft make money for the company. "The aviation world is a whole different picture than when the Skycatcher was announced and we must sell the airplane at a price that makes the program sustainable," EAA quotes White as saying.

The Skycatcher was introduced five years ago at a price of $109,000 and Cessna said at the time that the decision to build the aircraft in China was based on keeping the price in $100,000 neighborhood. The new price puts the Skycatcher at the upper end of the market for LSAs. Cessna told those holding positions on future deliveries that it had a few Skycatchers available at the old price on a first-come, first-served basis until the end of the year.

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.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: D. B. Cooper Redux

Does anybody really care what happened to D.B. Cooper? Probably not, but today's 40th anniversary of the hijacking and jump finds continuing speculation. Paul Bertorelli thought he's chime in, too -- especially given the video reconstruction pilot skydiver Dan Gryder put together this week. (If you've ever wondered what $200,000 in small bills looks like, Gryder's will give you an idea.)

Read more and join the conversation.

Question of the Week: What Happened to D. B. Cooper?

Today is the 40th anniversary of arguably the most famous hijacking of all time and one of the most compelling mysteries of the last four decades. In today's blog, Dan Gryder offers a video teasing a full explanation of the crime, and our Editorial Director Paul Bertorelli notes there are no shortage of questions and answers about the case. What do you think?

Did D.B. Cooper pull off the perfect crime?
(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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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You! back to top 

Survey: How's That Glass Panel Working Out?

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 aftermarket glass.

Click here to take the survey.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

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

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Galaxy Aviation (St. Augustine Airport, FL)

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

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.

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 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Steve Nelson of Westminster, CO. 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.