AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 17, Number 51b

December 22, 2011

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Up and At 'Em! FAA's New Fatigue Rules back to top 
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FAA Finalizes Fatigue Rules Amid Criticism

Pilots will have a 10-hour minimum rest period prior to flight duty with enough time during that period for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, according to new rules (PDF) finalized Wednesday by the FAA -- there are other details and exceptions. Cargo operators will not be subject to the new rules unless they elect to opt in. Echoing the concerns of his cargo-carrying brethren, Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association President Capt. Steve Chase said, "It is our hope that lawmakers will reconsider the cargo carrier exemption and ensure that legislation meets the original intent of 'One Level of Safety.'" The NTSB Wednesday voiced similar concerns. The fact that the final rule will not take effect immediately has earned it criticism from safety advocates, and there are other concerns about the rule's details.

According to the FAA, commercial carriers will need time to adapt their scheduling practices and pilots to the new rules. The FAA has allowed two years for that. And as part of the new rules, a pilot must state his fitness for flight prior to duty. Any pilot reporting fatigue making him or her unfit for duty must immediately be removed from duty by the airline. The rules were inspired in part by the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 that killed all 49 aboard plus one on the ground. Compliance with the rule will come at least four years after the accident, if the FAA sticks to its timeline, and that is not soon enough for some families who lost relatives in that crash. The NTSB said in a statement Wednesday that while not perfect, the rule is "a huge improvement" over the regulations it will replace. It also noted that a tired pilot is just as tired, "whether the payload is passengers or pallets." And fatigue is a particular concern "for crews that fly 'on the back side of the clock.'" The FAA said it expects airlines to work with their pilots when considering fatigue.

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The FAA's Leadership Vacuum back to top 

Who Will Follow Babbitt?

With Randy Babbitt's recent departure from the FAA's top job after a drunk-driving arrest, the job is being filled by his former deputy, Michael Huerta, but speculation has already begun about who will be the next administrator. In an analysis by Politico on Tuesday, five names are floated, including several who are well-known in aviation circles -- NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, former ALPA leader Duane Woerth, and former U.S. Rep. James Oberstar.

Hersman is known for her strong record of safety advocacy and her "career aspirations," says Politico. Woerth reportedly was a contender for the job back in 2009, when Babbitt was hired, and has strong ties with the airlines and the unions. He is currently the U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization. Oberstar spent 36 years in the House, where he was a longtime member of the Transportation Committee and served as chairman for several years. Politico also names as possible successors Robert Herbert, a staffer for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who served as director of aviation in Nevada's Army National Guard, and Huerta, who could be a popular choice among FAA staffers. Huerta's work on NextGen "showcases his embrace of the wonky details," says Politico. Nothing is likely to happen until after the presidential election in 2012, Politico predicts, so chances are Huerta will be in charge for at least another year or so.

Related Content:

Question of the Week: The Next FAA Administrator

Politico has named its top five potential successors to former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. Who do you like?

Who should be the next FAA Administrator?
(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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Leaner Times, More Cutbacks back to top 

FAA Plans VOR Reductions

As part of its strategy to upgrade the National Airspace System, the FAA last week proposed to reduce the number of VOR facilities to a "minimal operational network" by 2020. The agency said the minimum network would enable aircraft anywhere in the continental U.S. to proceed safely to a destination with a GPS-independent approach within 100 nm. The FAA will convene a working group to consider which VORs will be shut down. "Each facility will be evaluated on its own merits," the FAA said. The group will use "relevant operational, safety, cost, and economic criteria," along with input from industry stakeholders and the public, to reach its conclusions.

This proposed transition of the NAS navigation infrastructure aims to enable performance-based navigation as part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which will be based on GPS and WAAS, the FAA said. The FAA plans to transition from defining airways, routes and procedures using VORs and other "legacy" navigation aids to using "Area Navigation (RNAV) everywhere and Required Navigation Performance where beneficial." The FAA said it plans to retain an "optimized network" of DME stations along with the minimum operational network of VOR stations "to ensure safety and continuous operations for high and low altitude en route airspace over the conterminous US and terminal operations at the Core 30 airports." The FAA is accepting comments on its proposed policy until March 7.

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"Barefoot Bandit's" 15 Minutes of Fame back to top 

Seven-Year Sentence For Repeat Airplane Thief

Colton Harris-Moore, the teenager whose two-year crime spree included the theft of several airplanes -- which he taught himself to fly from manuals and videos -- was sentenced on Friday to serve seven years and three months in jail after pleading guilty to 33 counts of burglary and theft. Harris-Moore, now 20, was "pleased" with the sentence, according to his lawyer, John Henry Browne. "He was expecting the worst," Browne told The Associated Press. In a letter (PDF) to the judge, Harris-Moore apologized for his crimes and described the "euphoria" of his first flight, even though the weather was horrible. "My first thought after takeoff was 'Oh my God, I'm flying,'" he wrote. "I had waited my entire life for that moment." Harris-Moore flew the Cessna 182 stole from Orcas Island Airport in the dark into the teeth of a Northwest wind and rainstorm that grounded a lot of other aircraft and admitted he was lucky to survive. He eventually landed it hard near Yakima. He stole at least two more planes, a Cirrus SR22 and finally a Cessna Corvalis that he ditched in the Caribbean, where he was captured after police shot out the engine of a boat he'd stolen. He said he planned to use his prison time to study and he hopes to eventually go to college for aeronautical engineering.

Harris-Moore also wrote about the neglectful mother who raised him and said he wouldn't wish such a childhood on his "darkest enemies." Judge Vikki Churchill said considering Harris-Moore's background, raised with a "mind-numbing absence of hope," the outcome could have been worse. "This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it's a triumph of the human spirit in other ways," she said. Fox has reportedly bought the movie rights for more than $1 million, and a screenplay is in the works. Under the terms of his plea deal, Harris-Moore cannot keep any of that money. Prosecutor Greg Banks told the AP he was satisfied with the sentence.

AVweb Insider Blog: Can Glamorizing a Criminal Help Aviation?

Colton Harris-Moore is an airplane thief and con artist. Is he the inspiration for a new generation of pilots? In his latest post to the AVweb Insider blog, Russ Niles explains how a big-budget Hollywood treatment of Harris-Moore's story could (sadly) overshadow AOPA's initiatives, the EAA's Eagles programs, the Sport Pilot Rule, and third-class medical reform when it comes to boosting pilot outreach.

Read more and join the conversation.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

LightSquared Files FCC Petition

LightSquared has thrown down a potentially tricky legal gauntlet and challenged the Federal Communications Commission to clarify its right to use the sliver of radio spectrum it owns for a ground-based broadband network. In a petition for declaratory ruling (PDF) filed Tuesday, the upstart broadband service wholesaler repeats its claim that the manufacturers of GPS devices that are affected by the broadband signals are to blame for the interference. "It recently has become apparent that the commercial GPS industry has manufactured, and sold to unsuspecting consumers, unlicensed and poorly designed GPS receivers that 'listen' for radio signals both in the 'RNSS' frequency band in which the U.S. GPS system is intended to operate, as well as across the adjacent 'MSS' frequency band that is not intended for GPS use, and in which LightSquared is licensed," the petition says. "The commercial GPS industry claims, without justification, that these GPS receivers somehow are entitled to 'protection' from the LightSquared authorized operations ...." LightSquared is also asking that the manufacturers of GPS equipment be kept out of any deliberations on the future of LightSquared's applications because, according to LightSquared, the GPS makers lack the legal standing to have their comments heard. The GPS industry says the filing is a rerun of previous LightSquared rhetoric that selectively cites previous FCC rulings and ignores its own positions on the interference issues.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Coalition to Save Our GPS said LightSquared has agreed to not to interfere with GPS. "In its January 2011 order, the Commission made clear that LightSquared would not be permitted to commence operations until it had demonstrated that it would not interfere with GPS," said coalition spokesman Jim Kirkland. "LightSquared did not challenge this condition at the time, and has to live up to it. There is overwhelming technical evidence—the most recent of which was released by the Government just last week--that this condition has not been satisfied." The petition is the latest in a series of aggressive moves by LightSquared, which says it has spent billions to get its high-speed wireless broadband system off the ground. If approved as written, the LightSquared petition would put the entire legal onus for coexistence on the GPS industry. However, LightSquared insists it's still willing to help solve the interference problems. "While we ask the FCC today to confirm our legal rights, LightSquared remains fully committed to cooperate with all parties -– the GPS industry, GPS users, and the federal government -– to ensure that LightSquared's network is deployed in a way that is compatible with GPS users," said LightSquared spokesman Jeff Carlisle. "LightSquared has always recognized the critical importance of the GPS system, and we firmly believe that GPS devices can peacefully coexist adjacent to our network."

Aviation Consumer: Cirrus Safety Record Just Average

When the Cirrus SR20 and 22 first appeared a dozen years ago, the models' full airframe parachute system and stall/spin resistant wing were expected to set new standards for light aircraft safety. But according to Aviation Consumer's January edition, the Cirrus line has achieved, at best, a middle of the road safety and accident record that makes its fatal accident rate a bit better than Mooney and Piper high-performance models, but a bit worse than the Columbia/Corvalis series and Cessna's venerable 172 and 182. The magazine studied accident records dating back as far as 30 years on 11 popular GA light aircraft. Among its findings are that the Cirrus overall accident rate is 3.25/100,000, placing it closer to the top of the list of airplanes Aviation Consumer considered and about half of the GA average overall accident rate of 6.3/100,000. Only Diamond's DA40 and DA42 had better overall accident rates -- dramatically so in the case of the DA40, whose overall rate is 1.19, a little more than a sixth of the GA average.

Cirrus aircraft finished lower when fatal rate is considered. The Cirrus combined rate (SR20 and SR22) is 1.6, compared to the GA average of 1.2/100,000. Diamond's DA40 has the lowest fatal rate at .35, followed by the Cessna 172 at .45, the Diamond DA42 at .54 and the Cessna 182 at .69. Cessna's Corvalis line, which began life as the Columbia, has a fatal rate of 1.0, a bit less than the GA average of 1.2. The Columbia/Corvalis models are essentially similar in construction and performance to the Cirrus SR22, but without the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS).

The magazine also examined how effective CAPS has been and concludes that when deployed under optimal conditions of speed and altitude, the system has proven effective in saving lives in preventing serious injury. But it's far from perfect. Of 31 CAPS deployments, both intentional and possibly unintentional, 39 of 57 occupants emerged without injury, while seven occupants have been seriously injured by touchdown under CAPS. There have been six fatalities associated with CAPS deployment, several of which occurred either at very low altitude or speeds beyond the system's demonstrated performance envelope. One surprise from the magazine's study is that at least 12 of the aircraft that landed under CAPS were repaired and returned to service.

The Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association has studied Cirrus accidents extensively and concludes that the models would have a much better safety record if some 83 pilots who got into trouble in circumstances where CAPS was well within its envelope had simply used it. COPA is developing new training methods to teach pilots how to include CAPS more effectively in their response to abnormal flight situations.

Icing Cited In TBM-700 Freeway Crash

All five people on board a Socata TBM-700 were killed Tuesday morning after the single-engine turboprop apparently lost a wing in flight, then spiraled to a crash in the median of busy Interstate 287 in New Jersey and burned. Nobody on the ground was hurt. The airplane had taken off from Teterboro just 14 minutes earlier, about 9:50 a.m., headed for Atlanta, the NTSB said on Tuesday afternoon. The pilot and ATC discussed reports of icing in the area. A chunk of the missing wing was found about a quarter-mile from the wreckage, lodged in a tree. The airplane belonged to Jeffrey Buckalew, 45, a New York investment banker, who was the pilot. Also on board were Buckalew's wife and two children, a co-worker, and a dog.

Tuesday afternoon, NTSB investigators said Buckalew had requested clearance to a higher altitude shortly before the airplane dropped off radar. Earlier, Buckalew had a seven-second conversation with a controller, but the NTSB said it wasn't clear if he was reporting that he had encountered icing or was asking about the location of possible icing conditions. On ATC recordings, a controller is heard telling Buckalew about "moderate rime" up to 17,000 feet, according to The Associated Press. "We'll let you know what happens when we get in there," the pilot says. "If we can go straight through it, that's no problem for us." One witness told the AP the airplane seemed to be out of control. "It was like the plane was doing tricks or something, twirling and flipping," said Chris Covello, of Rockaway Township, N.J. "It started going straight down. I thought any second they were going to pull up. But then the wing came off and they went straight down." Covello said he saw the descent from the car dealership where he works.

Audio clips courtesy LiveATC.net.

crash audio:

Click here for the MP3 file.

crash response:

Click here for the MP3 file.

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

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: Got an Oily Hangar Floor? This Stuff Can Spruce It Up

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

Many of us dream of a gleaming gray expoxy-coated hangar floor illuminated by the glare of bright lights. But most of us actually have oil-stained concrete, dingy from years of abuse. If your floor is stained badly, a product called ReKrete can help improve it. Aviation Consumer's Paul Bertorelli demonstrates the product in this brief video.

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Video: F-106 Corn Field Bomber, Convair Delta Dart

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

This is an unusual story. The jet you're looking at is an F-106 Delta Dart. A storied interceptor in its day, it was built to exceed an Air Force requirement for 1.9 mach and continuous flight at 57,000 feet. It did both. And in December 1959, it set a speed record, of 1,525 mph, or about 2.3 mach, while flying at 40,000 feet. Its pilot at the time, Major Joseph Rogers, claimed the record might not be accurate. He was still accelerating, he said, at the time.

But this particular jet is famous for a different reason.

As the story goes, the aircraft you see here on February 2, 1970 flew itself into the ground -- a snowy field in Montana, where its engine continued to run for another hour and 45 minutes. Grounded, pilotless and still under power, with its radar still sweeping, the jet sometimes crept forward foot by foot through the snow as a small collection of onlookers watched. Its pilot, 1st Lieutenant Gary Foust, had ejected roughly two hours before that show was over. Foust's trip was just as interesting. He'd lost control of the jet while flying a mock engagement that led his and two other jets into harsh maneuvers in the thin, unforgiving air at 38,000 feet. Attempting to match a high-g reversal by another pilot, Foust's jet bucked. He entered a flat spin, and the jet fell, spinning slowly like a model on a turntable. The flight's two other pilots came to his aid, calling out recovery procedures. But by 15,000 feet the result seemed certain, and an instructor in one of the other jets ordered Foust to eject. Foust obeyed.

But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and it could be it's that law that saved the jet. As Foust shot up, the jet's condition changed -- just enough for it to recover on its own and head off for the horizon. Legend has it that one of the observing pilots said on frequency, "Gary, you better get back in."

In the end, the jet was recovered, rebuilt and put back to work as tail number 80787. But it was forever known as the Corn Field bomber. Delta Darts were phased out in the 1980s.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Cardinal Air (KHBI, Asheboro, North Carolina)

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

AVweb reader Mac Forbes gives us the low-down on a top-notch FBO at North Carolina's Asheboro Regional Airport (KHBI) — Cardinal Air, recipient of our latest blue ribbon for exceptional service:

Their service starts with a friendly "welcome" on the CTAF and, unless they're very busy, a personal greeting on the ramp with an offer to pump 100LL for you — at the self-service price! Karen's team (Bobbi, Ben, etc.) make you feel as if you're the most important customer of the day! Right there on the field, also, Mr. Jeffers operates an excellent full-service avionics shop where convenience and cordial, competent service are clearly priorities, with everything from VFR TXP checks to full glass cockpit upgrades. And the North Carolina Aviation Museum is adjacent, convenient, and loaded with interesting aircraft and artifacts well worth a few hours for touring! HBI is a great stop and/or excellent destination!

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 James Lichty of Brampton, ON (Canada). Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.

Names Behind the News back to top 

Meet the AVwebFlash Team

AVwebFlash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest news, articles, products, features, and events featured on AVweb, the world's premier independent aviation news resource.

The AVwebFlash team is:

Timothy Cole

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Advertising Director, Associate Publisher
Tom Bliss

Click here to send a letter to the editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not intended for publication.)

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