AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 49b

December 8, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! HAI Seeks Clarification back to top 
 

HAI: "Public" Ops Need Clarity

The aviation industry needs to form a working group to help clarify the rules that apply to public-use aircraft operations, Helicopter Association International President Matt Zuccaro said on Friday. The distinction currently is often blurred, Zuccaro said, especially for contract operators. He added that most contract flights that are now flown as public-use actually could be accomplished under FAA rules. Zuccaro took part in the NTSB forum on public-use operations held on Wednesday and Thursday, last week.

The FAA says that under the public-use rules, the government agency operating or contracting for the mission -- not the FAA -- assumes the legal responsibility for the safe operation and maintenance of that aircraft. Yet at last week's hearing, according to HAI, agencies and contract operators repeatedly said they operate within the FARs with only a few exceptions, such as transporting hazardous materials or carrying Class D external loads. Zuccaro said he feels strongly about the need for a working group, and added that if asked by the NTSB, would be willing to sponsor the group.

 
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70 Years After the Day That Will Live in Infamy back to top 
 

GA Flight Honors Pearl Harbor Day

We don't normally associate general aviation aircraft with the events of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, 70 years ago this week, but a flight instructor and student out flying that day nearly collided with a Japanese Zero -- an event that was re-enacted Wednesday morning in Las Vegas. Cornelia Fort and her student were flying early on Dec. 6, 1941, above Honolulu in an Interstate Cadet, when the Zero sped straight at her, and she took over the controls to evade it. She immediately returned to the airport to land, and later wrote that "another plane machine-gunned the ground in front of me as I taxied back to the hangar." In commemoration of the day, the current owner of the Cadet, airshow pilot Kent Pietsch, flew a reenactment flight on Wednesday morning, with his brother Warren flying the world's only active Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighter.

Kent Pietsch flew the Cadet from the front seat with Cornelia's nephew, Dudley Fort, in the back seat where his aunt would have been, Warren Pietsch told AVweb on Wednesday. "We flew once at 7:48 a.m. and again at 9:48, which was the exact time of the attack 70 years ago," Pietsch said. "We did it all -- the same near-miss, then the landing back at the field. The Zero 'strafed' the field, and we shot lots of video and pictures." Cornelia Fort later became the first American woman to die in the line of duty in the U.S. military, when the bomber she was ferrying over Texas collided with another airplane, in 1943. The January issue of Air & Space magazine, now online, features an in-depth story about Pietsch, the Cadet, and Fort.

 
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Management, Labor Lock Horns at LIAT back to top 
 

Airline Fires Union Leader, Sparks Sickout

Pilots at LIAT, a Caribbean airline, this week took action, crippling their employer with a sickout that cancelled at least 110 flights when their union leader was fired shortly after suggesting that pilots' pensions had been mismanaged and lost by the airline. Captain Michael Blackburn had worked for LIAT for more than 35 years and chaired the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA). In November, Blackburn, as head of LIALPA, sent a letter to LIAT management stating that the carrier's decision to invest pilot pension funds into a now-failed investment program went against a court order and took place without consultation of company pilots. Blackburn also made public derogatory statements about the airline. Soon thereafter, the veteran captain was accused of a safety violation. Monday, he was dismissed. His fellow pilots responded, Tuesday, with a sickout action that cancelled nearly all LIAT flights. The union has vowed that the fight is not over.

In his letter, Blackburn said that a court had ordered the pilots' pension money to be paid into a provident fund. He said that because the carrier ignored the order and the pilots pensions were subsequently lost to a bad investment, the carrier should be held liable for all contributions to date, plus interest. Blackburn then found himself under investigation, according to the Antigua Observer, for allegedly ignoring instructions from air traffic controllers and forcing another aircraft to take emergency measures. Blackburn claimed no knowledge of the alleged incident and threatened legal action. "If anybody makes any allegation against me that they can't prove, I am going to sue them. And I don't make idle threats," he said. During this timeframe, Blackburn also stated on a radio program that LIAT was less safe than it had been in years past, when it had fewer managers. Roughly one week after his comments, Blackburn was fired. LIAT published a press release on the firing, stating it took the action based on legal advice. According to LIAT, Blackburn's efforts constituted "a deliberate attempt to bring the company into public disrepute." Union leaders believe the firing was punitive and based on Blackburn's actions while working in his capacity as a union leader. They are seeking immediate reinstatement of Blackburn. A coalition of unions has sent a letter to LIAT CEO Brian Challenger, stating that they will take any action necessary to achieve this objective.

 
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High-Tech ... and High-Risk? back to top 
 

New FAA Rules For Airborne Energy Systems

With more experimenters seeking to test airborne wind-energy systems aloft, the FAA said on Wednesday it has revised its policy to ensure the safety of the national airspace. The experiments no longer will be evaluated under the rules that govern moored balloons; instead, they must comply with the rules for structures exceeding 200 feet above ground level. "The purpose of this change in policy is to allow for the continued development of this emerging technology and to provide the FAA with data regarding these devices so that the safety and integrity of the NAS is maintained," the FAA said.

Every deployment must be OK'd by the FAA and meet certain criteria -- each system must be moored to a single fixed ground location, testing is confined to heights at or below 499 AGL, daylight ops only, and the system must be marked in a way that is "conspicuous to the flying public." The agency will study each request on a case-by-case basis, evaluating the device's design and operation, how much airspace it affects, the radar cross-section, and reflection coefficient. The FAA said it is "concerned with these differing attributes and their unknown impacts to the NAS, navigable airspace, and to the flying public." The new policy applies only to experimental systems, the FAA said. Proposals for permanent and operational airborne systems "will be addressed in the future" with further evaluations and risk assessments. The FAA invites comment on its proposed policy change by Feb. 6.

 
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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

China Getting Ready For GA

Last week the Civil Aviation Administration of China unveiled more significant legislation to aid Chinese GA growth. The release of the General Aviation Airport Construction Standards (draft) for public commenting occurred on Nov. 30, the first anniversary of the central government's official announcement for airspace reform. (Click here to download the .DOC file.) These standards are the country's first set of governing rules over the definition, planning and construction of general aviation airports.

The draft version has 30 clauses covering the areas of airport zoning, infrastructure and equipment, service, and environmental protection. Compared with existing Chinese airport regulations, these standards are less strict and offer greater flexibility, therefore allowing unprecedented room for GA infrastructure growth.

In this draft, GA airports are divided into three categories. CAT1 airports are those capable of accommodating aircraft with up to 29 seats, or over 3000 monthly takeoffs and landings. CAT2 airports serve aircraft up to 9 seats or up to 3000 takeoffs and landings per month. CAT3 limits to aircraft with 4 or fewer seats and total monthly movements of no more than 600 takeoffs and landings. Control towers and automatic weather reporting systems are optional for CAT2 and CAT3 airports.

While such flexibility is much welcomed, the categorization method is somewhat ambiguous and prompts certain questions, like how will it interact with airport and airspace planning as well as traffic type and volume? What if, for example, a Cessna Caravan wants to land on a CAT3 airport, carrying six passengers or flying empty? The notes section of the draft (.DOC file) claims that these categories were formed based on "an airport's impact on public welfare." They are "irrelevant" to the airport's physical scale, adopted technologies, ownership or utilization. The standards named "safety, suitability, economy and sustainable growth" as their guiding principles but did not contain any actual administrative procedures such as planning application and approval process. The 10-day public commenting period will end on Dec. 10.

NBAA's Bolen Visits AOPA China

A group headed by NBAA President Ed Bolen made its first stop in Beijing on Dec. 1 to visit AOPA China and discuss their interests in the Chinese business aviation market. In that meeting, Bolen's group met with Feng Zhang, Deputy Director General of AOPA China. The groups expressed strong interest in China's fast-growing market, especially within the economical and political landscape of Beijing, where AOPA China is based. Mr. Zhang expressed his view that public perception in China currently associates business aviation with luxury and wealth as opposed to productivity. Zhang noted that a clear shift of focus to business aviation's utilitarian values is needed to gain more government backing and broader market appeal. There were other concerns.

The meeting also discussed rules and regulations, knowledge-base sharing, pilot training and business aviation culture, among other things. AOPA China is committed to fulfilling a strategic advocacy role for the business aviation industry and focuses its efforts and resources in the nation's capital. Those at the meeting hoped it might mark the beginning of a productive relationship. The group met with executive members of the Civil Aviation Administration of China on the following day. Other members of the group included Mr. Edward Smith, Senior Vice President of GAMA, and AsBAA Chairman, Mr. Jean-Noel Robert.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt Resigns

The following release was posted Dec. 6 to the FAA website under the title, "Statement from Randy Babbitt." That statement follows, here, in its entirety:

Today I submitted my resignation to Secretary Ray LaHood and it has been accepted. Serving as FAA Administrator has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career. But I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my colleagues at the FAA. They run the finest and safest aviation system in the world and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work alongside them. I am confident in their ability to successfully carry out all of the critical safety initiatives underway and the improvements that the FAA has planned. I also want to thank Secretary LaHood for his leadership and dedication to the safety of the traveling public.

At about 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Babbitt was seen driving on the wrong side of the road and was pulled over. He was taken into custody by Fairfax County police and charged with driving while intoxicated. Babbitt was alone in the car at the time and no accident related to the incident has been reported. After being taken to a local jail, the former administrator was released on a personal recognizance bond. He now faces a Feb. 2 court date. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Tuesday expressed disappointment that he'd found out about the event through news reports. Deputy administrator Michael Huerta is now serving as acting administrator of the FAA.

Fairfax City police operate under a general order that forces them to release "any criminal charge or serious traffic charge." Those charges include driving under the influence and reckless driving. The police do not need to release the administrator's blood-alcohol level. Virginia state law defines driving while intoxicated (DWI) as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Babbitt flew 25 years for Eastern Airlines and was sworn in to lead the FAA on June 1, 2009. He was about halfway through his five-year term.

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AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

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.

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.

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

Question of the Week: Did Babbit Have to Go?

After a weekend arrest on DUI charges, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt promptly resigned his position.

Did Babbitt have to go?
(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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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.

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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 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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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!

 
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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 
 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Kenny Lisle & Mike Damiani of Watsontown, PA. 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:

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

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.