AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 3a

January 16, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Australia's Beech-Grounding AD back to top 
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Australia Grounds Older Bonanzas

Australia has grounded all older-model Beech Bonanzas, Debonairs and Twin Bonanzas with the single pole style yoke attachment. The Civil Aviation Safety Administration (CASA) issued an airworthiness directive (AD) (PDF, one of four) on Beech model 33, 35-33, 35, 36 and 50 aircraft banning further flight (except for a single positioning flight) until the forward elevator cables have been inspected. The AD was issued after a cable failed on a Bonanza just before takeoff and inspection of a similar aircraft revealed damage to its cable in the same location. If the cable is frayed, it must be replaced before further flight and cables not showing any damage that are more than 15 years old have to be replaced within 60 days. Only aircraft that have had new cables since their last annual are exempt. Although the AD applies only to Australian-registered aircraft, things like this tend to spread.

In most cases when an agency in one country discovers a significant safety-of-flight issue and takes action, parallel agencies in other countries follow suit. The FAA has not issued an AD so far but the Australian action will be on someone's desk Monday morning. Australian authorities say the AD affects hundreds of aircraft there and similar action by the FAA will ground thousands of Bonanzas.

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Signs of the Times back to top 

Changes, Job Losses At EAA

EAA Thursday announced that a reshaping of the organization will result in the termination of roughly 30 employees, but because other jobs will be added, the net reduction in workforce will be less dramatic. The change will "align our resources with our priorities," EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski told AVweb. The net effect should be closer to 15 jobs lost. The changes were not, he said, a reaction to immediate financial concerns. In the words of EAA president Rod Hightower, "This will strengthen our organization in several key areas to more effectively meet the needs of our members, donors and aviators."

As part of the changes, Jeff Skiles (co-pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight) has been named vice president, Chapters and Youth Education. He keeps his role as co-chairman of Young Eagles. Chad Jensen will serve as manager of EAA's homebuilders community. Heidi Strand will lead EAA marketing while EAA seeks a long-term vice president of marketing. There will also be a vice president, AirVenture -- to lead the annual trade and airshow -- and that position has yet to be filled.

"Why We Need Aviation User Fees"

A petition titled "Take Aviation User Fees off the Table" has been sent to the White House with well more than 8,500 signatures, and the White House has offered an official response. The response is titled "Why We Need Aviation User Fees." It presents the Obama administration's "conclusion" that "a $100 per flight user fee is an equitable way for those who benefit to bear the cost of this essential service." The response is signed by Dana Hyde, associate director for general government programs, Office of Management and Budget, who twice raises the issue that users must pay or do their "fair share." The fee would be targeted, omitting all piston aircraft. NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen has responded, calling the administration's position an "administratively burdensome, bureaucracy-building, foreign-style user fee scheme that has very little to do with actual costs imposed on the system."

The original petition argues that "increasing tax rates on aviation fuel" more accurately reflects the use of services than does a flat fee imposed on a per-flight basis. The petition draws a very specific example to establish that point. It argues that "a flight from NYC to LA will require more controller time than a flight from NYC to Boston." On such a flight, a fuel tax "more accurately reflects the actual ATC services used." The White House's official response argues that a commercial jet flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco pays up to thirty-three times the fuel taxes of a corporate jet flying the same route and using the same services. The administration wants "to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share." Its position is that the $100 per flight fee would "more equitably" share the cost of air traffic services across the entire aviation community. All arguments exclude piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada traffic -- all of which would be exempted from the $100-per-flight fee. View the original petition and the administration's response here.

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Tuskegee Airmen Breaking Race Barrier ... Again? back to top 

Red Tails: Hollywood Didn't Want to Fund Because of Black Cast

Famed director George Lucas says his soon-to-be-released movie on the Tuskegee Airmen almost didn't make it into theatres because the film industry didn't want to fund its release because of the all-black cast. "It's because it's an all black movie. It has no major white roles in it at all," Lucas said in an interview with Comedy Central's Jon Stewart this week. Lucas said Red Tails, which he funded himself to a budget of about $58 million, met nothing but closed doors in the film industry, which Lucas was depending on to market and distribute the film. He said Red Tails was expensive and cost more than traditional black-cast films that play to smaller audiences. "And they don't believe there's any foreign market for it," Lucas said, adding that if the film isn't successful, larger budgets for future films with black casts may be in jeopardy.

"It's exactly like Star Wars. I wrote the first script and tried to get it to work. The story is too big and too wonderful to get into two hours," Lucas said. He actually plans a prequel and sequel, just as with Star Wars. Lucas said Red Tails, which is tentatively scheduled for release on Jan. 20, was intentionally shot in the style of 1940s war films and is thus "corny and jingoistic," but still tells the story of the Tuskegee airmen's difficult struggle through training and combat in the European theatre. "I wanted to make a movie that's inspirational for black teenagers. This is not a movie about victims. This is a movie about heroes," Lucas said.

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Waging War with the Wind back to top 

Uncommon Winds Challenge Long Haul Carriers

The speed of prevailing winds over the North Atlantic trended higher in December than in recent history and that has led to some complications for United Continental airlines' Boeing 757s. Last year, when flying west over the North Atlantic, the airline landed twelve jets short of their destination because high winds slowed the jets' progress and ate into reserves. Last month, the carrier landed 43 flights out of 1,100 to refuel, a spokeswoman told the Boston Globe, and 57 flights were affected over a five-week period. Those jets are generally flying routes on full tanks.

The winds have affected United Continental flights operated with Boeing 757-200 jets, mainly flying the 4,540 miles between Stuttgart and Newark. The airlines modified the jets years ago with winglets and carbon brakes to help the jets fuel burn. Continental's winglet installations added 200 nautical miles in range, according to the airline. "We're looking into this very closely," United Continental's Megan McCarthy said. The FAA reviewed an increase in fuel stops made at Newark back in 2008 from jets flying other routes. It found no cases in which jets landed with fuel levels that fell below minimum requirements. The agency said Wednesday that it will now be looking into the recent increase of fuel-related stops involving the 757. The carrier may be looking at reductions in passenger loads and extra fuel tanks to combat the problem.

A Crab And Kick Tutorial (With Video)

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While slip devotees might decry the crosswind coping techniques displayed in the accompanying video, the long lens and perfect angle offer an interesting perspective on the relative effectiveness of the crab-and-kick technique that is now clearly the norm for commercial airliners. The video, shot during a gusty storm in Dusseldorf just after the New Year, also testifies to the skill of some pilots in the technique and, in some cases, the ruggedness of modern landing gear. Rate the landings and takeoffs for yourself.

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News Briefs back to top 

Chambliss Flies Under Backflipping Motorcycle (With Video)

click for photos and video

Red Bull Air Race pilot and airshow performer Kirby Chambliss last year went to Mexico and flew his Zivko Edge 540 beneath a motorcycle as the bike performed a backflip between two ramps, according to TheSun.co.uk -- and now we have video. The motorcycle rider, Czech Republic's Petr Pilat, is billed as the youngest person to ever do a backflip on a motorcycle, having accomplished the feat at age 14. Chambliss is a highly accomplished aerobatic pilot who has demonstrated his skills all over the world. The Sun says the two met in November 2011, at Mexico City, to perform the stunt. Video and still photographs of the event are now available. At the end of the video Pilat exclaims, "I'm so happy that I'm still alive." Photography was provided by Mauricio Ramos of Mexico City.

Click for photos and video.

Teen Certificated In RV He Helped Build

Plenty of kids grow up around airplanes but not many are raised building the airplane in which they take their checkride. And to top it all off, Blake Crawford was signed off on his 17th birthday by a world-renowned aerobatic pilot who is also an FAA examiner. Debbie Rihn-Harvey, three-time national aerobatics champion and Southwest Airlines pilot, confirmed Crawford as the U.S.'s youngest certificated pilot last week after putting him through the paces in the RV-7A he and his father built throughout his childhood. Crawford was "bucking rivets at a young age," said his flight instructor Valerie Vaughn, of Dutch Wings Flight School at Houston Southwest Airport.

Vaughn said Crawford did most of his dual and solo work in the RV, including his first solo and his cross country. He said he's a "natural pilot" who was a "joy to have as a student" but that doesn't mean he'll necessarily make aviation his career. "Blake is in high school and is planning to pursue engineering as a career," Vaughn said.

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

AVmail: January 16, 2012

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Air Show and Air Race Safety

Regarding the NTSB hearings on air show and air race safety: As an occasional air show performer during the summer months, I feel that I can say with confidence that every reasonable precaution is taken to ensure crowd safety. The regulations are thorough to the point of being onerous, and air show performers are uniformly diligent and professional in their approach to safety.

Are new rules required? Absolutely not! I expect that there is more government oversight involved with me flying a loop in public than is required for a doctor to remove an appendix. My point is that professionals can be trusted to regulate themselves to some extent.

Rob Erdos

It is regrettable that air shows and air races have been linked in this way. They are very different, and they operate with different standards, especially in the consideration of spectator safety. Perhaps the air race operators should study how the International Council of Air Shows fosters safety.

Bob Spracklin

Air shows need to be safer, but the one choice you gave that mentioned safety tied it to technology, and technology isn't the issue. Air show technology hasn't changed much since Betty Skelton was flying. You got your stick, your rudder, and your throttle. No fly-by-wire, no "glass."

Today's air shows are too macho/dangerous. Simply put, pilots fly too low and give themselves no margin for error.

Here's my proposal: Train pilots to the same level, make the low-altitude wavier just as hard to get, and lift the actual show 100 or 200 feet higher. Spectators in the back rows can see it better, and recoveries from flubbed maneuvers can occur. That much altitude might even have us discussing ballistic parachutes. (Okay, that is new technology).

John Schubert

The time has come to put the warbirds in museums. They are too costly to run, dangerous to handle, and they aren't making them anymore.

What is needed are new classes of purpose-built formula aircraft which could possibly go as fast but not risk precious vintage pieces. State-of-the-art safety systems can be designed, as in unlimited boat racing, which could protect pilots and/or spectators. It's time.

Bob McPherson

Many of us who fly out of Reno/Stead (4SD) Airport have known for years that the course was an accident looking for a place to happen. The turn to the finish pylon always had a point at which the aircraft were heading directly towards the crowd in the grandstands. Any miscalculation or mechanical failure at these speeds would lead to the results we witnessed with Galloping Ghost.

Jerry McCord

Midway Incursion

I'm curious what sort of exchange happened on the phone afterwards between the Southwest pilot and the tower controller. The tower guy's response (or more appropriately, lack of response) on the radio to what could have been an enormous tragedy is amazing. How long does it take to say, "I'm sorry -- I screwed up"?

Cary Alburn

Made in the USA?

In response to Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture being upset with the Air Force choosing an out-of-country manufacturer to build the light air support aircraft, I understand that. The United States Air Force should use a United States manufacturer to build its aircraft.

Boisture is concerned about the jobs at stake, but before he makes too much noise, someone needs to ask him how much of the AT-6B is built in Mexico. That's right, a lot of subassemblies, wiring harnesses, and such are built in Mexico. Hawker Beech owns a manufacturing facility in Mexico. Guess how many jobs have been lost due to that decision? There are also other problems in the company.

I hope the AT-6B is awarded to Hawker Beech. It needs to be in [the] USA, but it all needs to be built in [the] USA. I lost my job at Hawker Beech a while back due to the items mentioned above.

Name Withheld

Editor's Note:

We've identified the writer of this letter but agreed to withhold his name.

Russ Niles

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Cirrus Safety -- The Real Numbers

With their vaunted BRS parachute systems, shouldn't Cirrus airplanes be the safest kids on the block? Perhaps. So why aren't they? On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli offers some numbers and a theory to explain it all.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: DOT Taps the Brakes on Airline Fees

The DOT's new regulation forcing airlines to be more transparent in posting fees is mostly good politics in an election year, but it's still beneficial to consumers. Paul Bertorelli breaks it down on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learn back to top 

Podcast: Cape Cod to Cape Horn in a 172

File Size 7.6 MB / Running Time 8:15

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Chris and Corinne McLaughlin are on their way down the coast of South America in a 1978 Skyhawk, on a two-month journey from Cape Cod to Cape Horn to help raise awareness about the need for more organ donors. Chris was a 747 pilot before he fell ill and an organ donation saved his life. He talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about the trip and the mission.

Click here to listen. (7.6 MB, 8:15)

Video: iPad Datalink Weather: ADS-B vs. XM

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

To make the iPad a real MFD contender, you need some datalink weather. There are two ways you can get it, and Aviation Consumer's Jeff Van West takes a look at both.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Thunderbird Aviation (Flying Cloud Airport, Minneapolis, MN)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Thunderbird Aviation at Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

AVweb reader Mark Hegg told us about his recent visit:

Flew into Flying Cloud on a Friday in early December 2011. They were expecting me and promptly guided me to a convenient tie-down. I told them our departure would be Sunday at noon. On Saturday a snow storm brought six inches of snow and cold temps. I called them Sunday morning to inquire about pre-heat possibilities before our departure. They said, "Don't worry; we had extra room in our heated hangar, and your plane has been inside all weekend. No charge!" When we arrived, they were just pulling the plane out and helped us load up. Fuel was already done, as well. Fuel prices were very reasonable. Their service was always cheerful, helpful, and efficient. I guess it's true what they say: The colder the temperature, the warmer the people.

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 
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

About 40 years ago, when I was learning to fly at Christchurch International in New Zealand, I was holding for take-off on the grass when I heard this exchange from the tower with a visiting farmer who was heading back to the farm.

"You're cleared for take-off — runway 29."

"Cleared for take-off; 29.

Tower (a little while later) :
"Bravo Chalie Alpha, nice take-off."

"Uh, thank you, tower."

"Just one small thing: Next time, can you use the runway instead of the taxiway?"

Barrie Smith
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 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

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? Your advertising can reach over 225,000 loyal AVwebFlash, AVwebBiz, and AVweb home page readers every week. Over 80% of our readers are active pilots and aircraft owners. That's why our advertisers grow with us, year after year. For ad rates and scheduling, click here or contact Tom Bliss, via e-mail or via telephone [(480) 525-7481].

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.

If you're having trouble reading this newsletter in its HTML-rich format (or if you'd prefer a lighter, simpler format for your phone or handheld device), there's also a text-only version of AVwebFlash. For complete instructions on making the switch, click here.

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