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The European Commission decided in November to ban airport body scanning X-ray backscatter machines after studies found a small number of cancer cases linked to use of the devices. The decision affects all airports in Europe, with an
exception for U.K. airports that will be allowed to test them, but not deploy them permanently. According to the European Commission, "only security scanners which do not use X-ray technology are
added to the list of authorized methods for passenger screening at EU airports." The commission does approve of full non-X-ray body scanners (radio wave scanners are among those used in the U.S.) when
operated under specific guidelines and restrictions. In the U.S., the TSA uses more than 250 backscatter machines at the nation's 100 busiest airports and is unmoved by Europe's position. The degree
of cancer risk varies somewhat depending on the source ... as does the degree of usefulness of the machines themselves.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, backscatter machines bring a cancer risk of one in 400 million. Research reported by PBS Newshour/ProPublica states that the risk of
developing cancer from the machines is "anywhere from six to 100" passengers per year. In a detailed paper submitted to the White House, University of California researchers said that because
backscatter X-ray energy is absorbed mainly by the skin and underlying tissue, the skin dosage may be dangerously high in localized areas. The TSA says the amount of radiation emitted by a backscatter
machine is similar to three minutes at altitude in a jetliner. For that risk, the TSA says use of the machines has since 2010 identified more than 300 illegal items and potentially dangerous items on
the bodies of passengers at airports in the U.S. In January of 2011, a security expert said that in studies,
participants asked to sneak explosives past backscatter machines "did it with such ease" that "there is no case for scanners." The director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia
University Medical Center told TIME magazine that backscatter machines are "equally effective" and "cost about the same" as machines that use less destructive millimeter waves. The TSA uses
both. As for the legality of their use, in the U.S. a Court of Appeals was not moved by statutory or constitutional arguments challenging use of the scanners, but agreed that "the TSA has not
justified its failure to issue notice and solicit comments." (PDF)
More than 2,400 airplanes and helicopters operated by the federal government, known as "public aircraft," are not subject to FAA rules, and this week the NTSB is holding a two-day forum to examine the safety record of these operations. Public aircraft are used for high-risk endeavors such
as firefighting, law enforcement, and search and rescue. "We have had accidents in the last few years where we go on scene and we still find confusion and a lack of clarity over who is responsible for
oversight," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman told Bloomberg News. "We are holding this forum to try to create a downward trend when it comes to fatalities and injuries in public aviation."
Seven panels are scheduled to be presented during the two-day forum. Speakers will be questioned by a technical panel composed of NTSB staff and board members. Thursday's forum will be webcast live online at the NTSB website. Since 2007, 52 people have died in public aircraft accidents, including nine
killed in the crash of a firefighting helicopter in August 2008.
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While Cessna recently announced a price hike to $149,000 for its Skycatcher LSA, Pipistrel says it plans to introduce a new LSA
trainer early next year and sell it for about $83,000. The Alpha trainer aims to be "affordable to acquire [and]
economical to maintain," the company said. "We believe no other LSA training aircraft is as cheap to run." The trainer will feature a beefed-up tricycle-gear undercarriage to handle student landings,
400 nm of range, cruise speed of 108 knots, and a fuel burn of 2.5 gallons per hour, Pipistrel said. The panel features conventional flight gauges supplemented by a Garmin GPS unit. The company plans
to start U.S. deliveries as soon as April.
The trainer comes with an 80-hp Rotax 912 engine and a ballistic parachute as standard equipment. The company says it has incorporated a long list of features into the Alpha, including that "it
must be strong and easy to fly for beginner students ... it must have benign stall characteristics ... it must be affordable and easy to operate, maintain, and repair." Times are changing, the company
said. "We have noticed over the last several years that customers have evolved from basic entry-level aircraft to more sophisticated glass everything with autopilot and every other conceivable
addition. Great if you can afford it but with the economy the way it is most aircraft have been priced out of the market for an average person or flight school. That's why we have developed an
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High Court Hears Privacy, Safety, Disclosure
Pilot Stanmore Cooper wants to sue the government for the emotional distress caused when the FAA obtained his medical records from the Social Security Administration, and on Wednesday the case was
heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. A lower court already has ruled that Cooper's privacy rights were violated, but the Supreme Court will decide whether compensation must be limited to financial losses.
Cooper, of San Francisco, was a private pilot until the 1980s, when he was diagnosed with HIV and let his medical lapse. In 1994, he reapplied for a medical certificate, but didn't reveal his
diagnosis for fear he would be denied. The certificate was revoked after the FAA checked the medical records. Cooper pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false statement and was fined $1,000.
Raymond Cardozo, Cooper's lawyer, said his client's name and HIV status are still posted on a federal government database. "I chose not to reveal my HIV infection [to the FAA] and that was a very
bad thing," Cooper said, according to CNN. "I took responsibility for it and I paid the price. I
was punished. And I think now it's the government's turn to own up to breaking the law and take responsibility for what they did." The court ruling is not expected until sometime next year.
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A new product scheduled to come on the market early next year promises to provide a durable coating on metal surfaces that can make them repel water, providing resistance to icing and corrosion.
The coating, called NeverWet, is a "super-hydrophobic" material that causes water and heavy oils to bead up and glide away. "Any object coated
with our NeverWet coating literally cannot be touched by liquid," says the Ross Nanotechnology website. "Any liquid placed on this coating is repelled and simply rolls off without touching the
underlying surface. Not only is this amazing to see, but it solves a myriad of problems." Although the company hasn't suggested the product has aviation applications, the GA community has already
taken note -- EAA said the possibilities seem "endless," from keeping wings clean and ice-free to reducing friction for
The product is long-lasting and easy to apply, according to the company. It also can be used on electronic devices to make them waterproof. In one video posted on the company website, an iPhone 3G
is coated in NeverWet and submerged. The phone continues to operate for 30 minutes, but an untreated phone, according to the video, would stop working in less than 60 seconds. The company says it was
working to find a better way to reduce corrosion on steel products, and accidentally "hit upon a slick product that's led to a whole new business."
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Following a string of Russian aviation accidents, a Russian lawyer says he will ask Russia's Supreme Court to curb the authority of the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), The Associated Press
reported Wednesday. Formed in 1992, the IAC is a post Soviet Union era creation. According to lawyer Igor Trunov, it embodies a conflict of interest that prevents it from operating objectively in the
interest of safety. Trunov would like to see the roles of regulatory oversight and investigation currently held by the IAC separated. He also argues that the IAC failed to determine a true cause in
its investigation of the September crash that killed an entire Russian ice hockey team.
"The monopoly on power and on investigations has prevented the IAC from naming officials responsible and led it to blame everything on the dead," Trunov told reporters. "It leads to impunity."
Trunov's effort is shedding light on alternate theories and factors that may have contributed to the hockey-team crash. According to Yevgeny Sarmatov, husband to a flight attendant killed in that
accident, the plane's crew often had to purchase fuel for cash prior to a flight. Trunov alleges that puts the quality of the jet's fuel in question. A former Russian crash investigator has said
that the IAC's description of the crash sequence didn't seem realistic. The IAC found that the flight's crew had inadvertently applied braking during the takeoff roll. Trunov says the government
should open a new investigation. He has been backed by several experienced pilots who believe the IAC's determination leaves important questions unanswered.
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An NTSB investigator says he's considering controversial changes to the airspace around Phoenix as a possible contributing factor in the crash of a Turbo Commander last week that killed six people,
including three children. Mike Huhn told the Arizona
Republic that comments he's heard concerning the role of the airspace design make it a potential consideration in his investigation. "They are all correct statements. Therein lies the
finger-pointing," Huhn said. He also told newspaper that the aircraft flew in a straight line at 4,500 feet, 500 feet below the Class B floor in that area directly into a cliff in the Superstition
Mountains. Local pilots fought changing the floor from 8,000 feet to 5,000 feet when the FAA proposed it in 2006 and their spokesman didn't mince words on its role in the Thanksgiving Eve crash.
James Timm, executive director of the Arizona Pilots Association, suggested an accident was inevitable. "You expect (an accident) to happen, and you hope it never will. It has come to pass," Timm
said. "We were concerned about it from the very beginning. We pushed very hard to get more space." FAA spokesman Ian Gregor declined to speak about this accident in particular and confined his
comments to a basic description of VFR and pilots' "see and avoid" responsibilities.
Airlines in the U.K. are protesting a government decision to delay application of a passenger tax to business aircraft flights until 2013. The Air Passenger Duty is now paid by all airline
passengers leaving a U.K. airport and private aircraft are exempt. It currently adds between $15 and $120 to the cost of an airline flight depending on its duration. It's scheduled to go up steadily
over the next six years and the government was also planning to apply a heftier version of it to passengers on private aircraft. It's been nicknamed the "Learjet tax." According to the Guardian, the airlines have been lobbying hard to
have the tax killed entirely but Tuesday's announcement that the increases will proceed for them and application of the tax will be delayed for private aircraft brought cries of discrimination.
The British Air Transport Association called the delay of the "Learjet tax" unfair and used rhetoric that might sound familiar on the other side of the Atlantic. "It is a year's grace for the
wealthy man in the business jet, but for millions of people who cannot afford to fly by business jet, they will have to pay APD increases at twice the rate of inflation from April next year. How is
that fair?" wondered BATA CEO Simon Buck. The APD is a serious revenue generator for the British government. It currently rakes in about $3 billion and that will rise to more than $4 billion with the
scheduled increases and the eventual implementation of the business jet tax.
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This one will cause ripples in the industry because it puts the Skycatcher near the top of the price tier, which is bound to cause some erosion in the company's order book. But in his latest post
to the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli notes that Cessna's price hike should come as no surprise. Cessna did essentially the same thing when sales hit the skids 30 years ago, which
explains, more than anything else, why Cessna has remained a profitable aircraft company.
Fly More for Less
Visit the AVbuys page for discounts, rebates, incentives, bargains, special offers, bonus depreciation, or tax benefits to help stretch your budget. We're helping you to locate and view
current offers instantly, with a direct link to sponsors' web sites for details.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.
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With Aviation Consumer, you get only the facts and none of the fiction. We buy products just like you and test, test, test. You get the results right when
you need them.
AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" is one that held that honor back in 2010 Landmark Aviation at Asheville Regional Airport (KAVL) in Asheville, North Carolina.
AVweb reader Edwin Nass recommended the FBO this time:
The desk and line staff were very friendly and helpful and attentive to our needs. They offered assistance in the return of our rental car, getting our luggage to the aircraft, and [in] securing the
aircraft for the duration of our stay.
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!
Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Isn't it time to initiate a digital marketing program with AVweb that will deliver traffic and orders
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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.
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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Editorial Director, Aviation Publications Paul Bertorelli
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