AVwebFlash - Volume 17, Number 49a

December 5, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Balancing Entertainment and Safety back to top 
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NTSB To Investigate Airshow Safety

The NTSB will hold a hearing next month to gather information about the safety of air races and airshows, the board said on Friday. During a one-day meeting on Jan. 10, the board will hear from regulators, aviation organizations, industry groups, and airport authorities to learn about safety practices, procedures and protocols. The board also will gather information about the safety regulations and oversight in the planning and execution of these events. In September, a pilot and 10 spectators were killed in an accident at the Reno Air Races, and several performers died in U.S. airshow accidents over the last season.

In March, Kyle Franklin's Waco caught fire after an emergency landing, and his wife, Amanda, died of injuries about two months later. In August, wingwalker Todd Green was trying to transfer from an airplane wing to the skid of a helicopter when he fell about 200 feet to his death at the Selfridge Air Show near Detroit, and pilot Bryan Jensen was killed when his highly modified Pitts Special crashed on the field at the Kansas City Aviation Expo Air Show. The Red Bull Air Races are still on hiatus, but recently a plan to revive the races in 2012 was reported. Several minor incidents occurred during the last Red Bull season in 2010, but there were no major injuries.

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Ambitious FAA Grapples with Safety, Privacy Issues back to top 

FAA Aims To Cut Commercial Accidents By Half

The FAA's Commercial Aviation Safety Team said last week it will expand its proactive accident-reduction efforts with the goal of cutting the already-low fatality rate in U.S. commercial aviation 50 percent by 2025. The team also will start to include general aviation, helicopter operators, and the military in its programs. In addition to analyzing past accidents and their causes, CAST works to collect data on current aviation operations and incidents to identify emerging and changing risks and prevent accidents.

Over the next two years, the team will also start to include maintenance and air traffic information and more regional air carriers in its data-gathering efforts. CAST aims to identify accident risk factors and develop specific safety enhancements to address them. The goal is to continually improve the safety of the aviation system.

FAA Misses Deadline On Fatigue Rules

Another deadline passed Wednesday without the FAA acting to finalize new rules aimed at pilot fatigue, and that brought ire from family members of the victims of Continental Flight 3407. The concerned parties have organized into the Families of Continental Flight 3407, an action group formed in remembrance of relatives lost to that 2009 crash, and to see through what they believe are necessary preventive changes in regulation. The FAA's original deadline for the pilot fatigue rules was Aug. 1. It was later moved to Nov. 30. The agency says it is "working aggressively" to complete the new final version of the fatigue rules "as well as separate rules that address pilot qualifications and training." The agency has met organized opposition in the past. Comments from one of the family members suggest he believes there may be more corrupt motives in the mix.

Scott Maurer lost his daughter in the crash of Flight 3407. He told the Buffalo News that cargo carriers' desire that the FAA develop separate rest requirements for their pilots mean they "are putting profits ahead of safety" and delaying the process. Investigators blamed the crash on pilot error. The investigation found that neither pilot on the flight deck had slept in a bed the night before the accident flight. The aircraft, a Bombardier Q400 Dash 8-400 operated as Colgan Air (Continental Express), stalled in weather, at night, and crashed while approaching the airport at Buffalo, N.Y. All 49 aboard died, as did one on the ground. Rest rules proposed by the FAA in September 2010 were met with a critical letter from the Air Transport Association. According to the ATA, the rules would cost billions and kill tens of thousands of jobs in the airline industry. The Buffalo News concluded its report with the words of local politician, Brian Higgins. "I understand they want to get it right, but part of getting it right is getting it done."


The FAA announced Friday that it will no longer require operators to provide a valid security concern -- or any other requirement -- to participate in a specific program that prevents IFR flight information from displayed online. Those who want to enroll aircraft in the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program for the sake of privacy, or any other reason, may now do so simply by properly asking. The National Business Aviation Association, Experimental Aircraft Association and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association all fought for that outcome and welcomed the change.

A statement released by AOPA quoted NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen saying, "NBAA and its members thank the leaders in congress for taking action to address our industry's long-standing concern that curtailment of the BARR program represents an invasion of privacy, a competitive threat to businesses, and a potential security risk." EAA president and CEO Rod Hightower said his organization appreciated the efforts of congress "to preserve the privacy rights of aviators." And AOPA president and CEO Craig Fuller said the change recognized "the importance of assuring a measure of privacy protection to individuals operating their own aircraft."

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The Ghosts of Airlines Past back to top 

Lawmakers Block Safety Rule Change

Pilot unions concerned that international safety standards are lacking when it comes to regulation of lithium batteries have (at least temporarily) lost out to industry and foreign government interests. A deal struck as part of the talks on long-term funding for the FAA blocks new battery shipment rules proposed by the Obama administration and reverts to what the pilot unions believe are inadequate international standards. Industries that ship products containing lithium batteries supported the provision that blocks the new rules. Top figures at both the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) have voiced clear concern.

According to Mark Rogers, who spoke for ALPA, "unless this issue is addressed we'll continue to see accidents and we'll continue to see fatalities." IPA President Robert Travis said the existing international standard on lithium batteries is "generally recognized as inadequate." Last year, a UPS plane crashed near Dubai, killing both pilots. It was on fire as it came down and was carrying thousands of lithium batteries. The cause of that crash has not yet been determined. Five years ago, a UPS aircraft made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after a fire broke out onboard. The source of the fire was not determined. Generally speaking, the batteries won't catch fire unless they are damaged, improperly packaged, or exposed to very high temperatures. If they do catch fire, they can produce temperatures of more than 1,100 degrees. Lithium-metal batteries can burn at temperatures close to 4,000 degrees. According to CBS news, the rechargeable battery industry says new rules would cost more than $1 billion in the first year due to changes in employee training, paperwork and packaging.

Cessna Adds Inspections For Aging Aircraft

Cessna has launched an initiative to educate owners about new required inspections for the 145,000 single-engine aircraft in the 100- and 200-series that were built between 1946 and 1986. The supplemental procedures will be added into the service manuals this month for aircraft in the 100 series and in April for the 200 series. The added inspections mainly require checks of areas where corrosion and fatigue damage can occur. "The new inspection requirements we've developed are very simple, and are based on visual inspection that can be done quickly by a trained inspector during an annual inspection," said Beth Gamble, Cessna's principal engineer for airframe structures.

"Corrosion and fatigue are inevitable," Gamble said, "but with early detection and proper maintenance, severity and effects can be minimized." Cessna has published a PowerPoint presentation -- download the .ZIP file here -- and a short video to provide more details about the process for owners. The older Cessnas may be gaining popularity soon if a proposal by AOPA and EAA makes headway. The groups plan to ask the FAA to allow pilots to fly many of the older airplanes, if they have fixed gear and 180 hp or less, without a 3rd class medical.

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Tighteing the Military Belt back to top 

Air Force Cuts Back On Demo Flights

The U.S. Air Force will scale back single-ship demo flights for next year's airshow season, the Air Combat Command announced last week. "We face significant fiscal constraints," the ACC said in a statement (PDF). Those constraints require "tough decisions," and the ACC said it will scale back from sponsoring six single-ship demo teams to just one. The F-22 demo team will perform at up to 20 events. The A-10, F-16, and F-15 demos will not fly. The Air Force will continue to support a full season for the Thunderbirds airshow team.

The change will allow the ACC to reallocate more than 900 sorties to its wings around the country, so they can maximize their flying hours for combat readiness training. "Most importantly," the ACC said, "reallocating those sorties will provide an increase in more than 25 combat-ready fighter pilots -- that's a very good thing for our nation and wise stewardship of our limited resources." The Thunderbirds schedule will be announced this week at the annual meeting of the International Council of Air Shows, in Las Vegas.

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Future Fuels and FAA Funding back to top 

FAA Funds Biofuel Push

The FAA will award $7.7 million to eight companies developing alternative fuels (biofuel), the agency announced Thursday, seeking a test product by next year. The companies will receive guidance from the FAA to develop an approved drop-in jet fuel alternative derived from sustainable sources for use in current systems and current infrastructure. Source matter will include alcohols, biomass, sugars and organic oils. The contracts themselves direct the companies to research quality control and long-term mechanical effects of burning biofuels in jet engines. Biofuel has already helped drive airliners and passengers across the United States as part of traditional/biofuel blends. Feasibility is one thing. Affordability and profitability wield their influence in the far more important arena of practical application, where real challenges remain.

Some biofuels may be chemically identical to Jet A but presently cost more than five times as much per volume -- as does a cooking oil derived product produced by Dynamic Fuels of Louisiana selected by Alaska Airlines for flight tests. That company did not make the FAA's short list of cash recipients. Honeywell UOP, Honeywell Aerospace, LanzaTech, Virent Energy Systems, Velocys, Metron Aviation, Futrepast and Life Cycle Associates will all receive FAA funds. Their contracts range from $25,000 to $3 million. Honeywell UOP ($1.1 million) is specifically tasked with delivery of 100 gallons of isobutanol-derived fuel before 2013. The airline industry literally burns billions of gallons of fuel each year. And the new fuels industry is developing sustainable biofuel feedstock in multiple corners of the country. Production volume and cost will be deciding factors in the end and, for now, the FAA's investment isn't the government's only one. The departments of Agriculture and Energy and the Navy will invest up to $510 million over three years pursuing alternative fuels for use in military vehicles. Part of that effort aims to promote fuel security and independence. For the airlines, more predictable pricing and an effort to avoid carbon taxes expected to play in the European Union are also driving factors.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Security Through a First-Time Traveler's Eyes

Anyone who's stood in the airline screening queue behind a clueless first-time passenger has experienced frustration and the seemingly arbitrary rules we have to put up with to board an aircraft. But imagine how irritating it must be for the airline virgin. Russ Niles had that experience recently and does his best on the AVweb Insider blog to channel the bemused derision of a first-time traveler to demonstrate just how silly our security procedures are.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: Why Isn't Technology Fixing CFIT?

By all accounts it was a properly equipped aircraft flown by an experienced crew that plowed into a mountain in Arizona on November 18. In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, IFR magazine editor Jeff Van West asks why, despite all the electronic help offered by the modern cockpit, we still hit mountains with alarming regularity.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Survey: Have You Deployed a Cirrus CAPS?

If so, our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, is interested in gathering some information on what the experience was like for a project on aircraft safety.

Please contact us at avconsumer@comcast.net.

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

Brainteasers Quiz #166: Working the Angles


The shortest distance between two points sometimes involves more than a straight line. Whether VFR or IFR, aviation is loaded with angles, and without bending too many rules, see how you can work the answers to this quiz. (Includes results of the General Aviation Party's primary election!)

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

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.

Video: Jeppesen's Mobile FliteDeck (Part 3)

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

Jeppesen has switched strongly to delivery of charts via electronic means, and its new iPad app, Mobile FliteDeck, does the heavy lifting. In this video, the final of three, AVweb's Paul Bertorelli takes a video tour of the plate management part of the application.

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.

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AVweb Audio — Are You Listening? back to top 

Podcast: Proposed Medical Changes -- The Impact on LSA

File Size 9.8 MB / Running Time 10:40

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EAA and AOPA are working to craft a proposal to the FAA that would expand the aircraft models available to those who want to fly without a third class medical. How will that affect the LSA industry? AVweb's Mary Grady talks with Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA), to find out.

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Click here to listen. (9.8 MB, 10:40)

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: U.S. Aviation (KDTO, Denton, TX)

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

AVweb reader Ron Huckins has our latest top-notch FBO recommendation this week -- U.S. Aviation at Denton Municipal Airport (KDTO) in Denton, Texas. Ron recently made the switch to USA. for his regular trips to the area and was surprised to discover that he's been missing out on a great FBO:

I have been traveling to Denton, Texas from Wichita, Kansas about two to three times a month! I had been using the other FBO until I found out that U.S. Aviation has better service and excellent 100LL fuel prices at full service — cheaper than the other FBO that is self-service! [U.S.] even offered to hangar my "old dog" 1958 Cessna 310 at no charge. Wow!

And this will be important again when I fly my 1951 Cessna 195 that is polished and would like it in a hangar. Darren, the line manager, was there late on Sunday afternoon working for one of his crew that called in sick! Now is that not a great guy to work with?! Even had decent prices on rental cars — and if you are a Hertz Gold Member, it is even better! Thanks, U.S. Aviation at Denton! I will be back!

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!

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Realizing that I had not practiced an engine-out approach in too long, I decided to "fail" my Lycoming while doing touch-and-goes at Jacksonville's Herlong airport.

"Cherokee 69T. Simulated engine-out and short approach."

[After a few moments, I saw that I would be seriously short.]

"Cherokee 69T again, simulating getting my engine back on!"

(The next try was spot-on.)

Milford Shirley
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.)

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.