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LightSquared is now claiming that interference tests on GPS devices in the presence of its broadband signal were "rigged" and it's asking the FCC to redo the tests. In a news
release Wednesday, LightSquared officials claimed those running the tests "cherry picked" the most vulnerable devices for testing and then applied unrealistic standards. A panel of representatives
from nine government agencies said on Friday that LightSquared's proposed broadband service would cause "significant interference with GPS" and "there appear to be no practical solutions or
mitigations" that would allow the two systems to co-exist. The National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee (PNT) told the Commerce Department that no further testing
of the system is needed. LightSquared was quick to protest, and filed a conflict-of-interest complaint against the "deeply flawed" process, claiming that PNT is biased in favor of GPS
LightSquared claims the PNT analysis was "fraught with inappropriate involvement of the GPS manufacturers, lax controls, obvious bias, lack of transparency, and unexplained delays." Also, the FAA
"unilaterally decided to suspend any further collaboration," LightSquared said, which deprived LightSquared of the opportunity to fully address the FAA's concerns. The Coalition to Save Our GPS
characterized LightSquared's response as "shrill [and] irresponsible." The technical evidence "speaks for itself," the Coalition said. "Every set of independent technical studies has confirmed that
LightSquared's proposed operations would create widespread interference to critical GPS uses," the Coalition said. "In addition, the most recent studies confirm interference to critical aviation
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Now that it's 2012, the Centennial of Naval Aviation is officially over, but the Navy nonetheless took note this week that 101 years ago, on Jan. 18, 1911, a pilot landed his airplane on a ship for the first time. A temporary platform, 120 by 30 feet, was built across the
afterdeck of the armored cruiser Pennsylvania, anchored off the San Francisco waterfront. The ship's crew rigged a series of ropes across the platform to catch hooks attached to the landing gear of
Eugene Ely's Curtiss Pusher biplane. Thousands of spectators lined the shore to watch the historic attempt. Ely flew around the ship to set up the landing course, then came in toward the stern. "Ely
was prepared to handle the existing tailwind, but apparently did not expect the updraft that struck his lightly-loaded plane just as it reached the platform," says the Navy website. "Fortunately, he
responded quickly, dove, and snagged the arresting gear about halfway up its length."
The ropes were weighed down by sandbags, and pulled the pusher to a smooth stop. As a precaution, the ship's crew had also rigged canvas awnings in front and to the sides to catch the airplane in
case of an overrun or a swerve off the platform. "This arrangement was a clever one, worked well, and in general pointed the way to the arresting gear and safety barrier system that is employed on the
Navy's aircraft carriers to this day," says the Navy. At EAA AirVenture last summer, AVweb's Jeff Van West spoke with retired Navy pilot Bob Coolbaugh, who built a replica of Ely's Pusher and
flew it to the airshow. Click here for a video report.
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Women in Aviation International will hold their 23rd annual conference March 8 to 10, in Dallas, Texas, offering seminars, workshops,
networking events, and a commercial exhibit area. The event brings together a wide range of aviation professionals, educators and enthusiasts from around the world, and welcomes men as well as women.
The focus of the event is on networking and building successful careers in a variety of aviation fields. The show is also known for its closing banquet, when dozens of scholarships, worth hundreds of
thousands of dollars, are awarded to help women advance in aviation careers. The event also showcases the annual inductees to the Pioneer Hall of Fame.
"The banquet is an evening where we honor women who opened doors for us," says WAI President Peggy Chabrian. "Our members are inspired by the rich history these women bring. In many cases, they get
to actually meet these living legends It's an experience our members don't soon forget." This year's inductees include the 20 women who flew in the first National Air Derby, in 1929; Bernice
Falk Haydu, who flew as a test pilot with the WASP; Mary Magdalene Maga, one of the U.S. Navy's first female aircraft mechanics; and Elizabeth MacGill, the first woman to earn a master's degree
in aeronautical engineering, in 1929. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend the conference. Special rates are offered for students and those in the military.
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The eighth annual event for light sport aircraft, the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, will be held Thursday through Sunday this week in
Sebring, Fla. The event features demo flights, educational forums, social events, and aircraft displays. Under new management this year, the show is expected to be a little more upscale, while
retaining its traditional focus on personal attention for prospective buyers, with a wide range of LSA aircraft on display. Thursday evening, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association hosts a
dinner gathering for all the vendors and players in the industry, with special guest Rod Hightower, the president of EAA. AOPA President Craig Fuller also will speak at a pilot town-hall event,
followed by a question-and-answer period. After a pre-show downpour Wednesday, weather is expected to be good for the four-day event.
Among the newer LSA models that are expected at the show are Bristell's next-generation low-wing airplane, with a wide cabin and an eight-hour range. The airplane was first shown at the AOPA Summit
last September; click here for a video report. Gates open at 8 a.m. every day. A sport pilot fly-in to the Bahamas
follows the expo, with takeoff from Sebring on Sunday. AVweb staff will be on site for the show, filing daily video and news reports.
Red Tails, the George Lucas film about the famous Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, opens on Friday, and aviators around the country are eager to see it -- if they haven't already. Several
advance screenings have been held, including one in the family theater at the White House last Friday, where President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a group of Tuskegee Airmen. Other
Tuskegee groups around the country also have already screened the film. "I think the movie should get maybe four or five Oscars, at least," Arthur Green, president of a Detroit Tuskegee Airmen group,
told the Detroit Free Press. The critics, of course, also got an advance look, and not all of them were won over.
"Despite stunning aerial scenes and good intentions," writes Tish Wells for McClatchy Newspapers, "Red
Tails is grounded by clumsy dialogue, a meandering plot and the occasional jarring anachronism."
In The Daily Beast this week, writer Marc Wortman says the film "may make for a rousing Star Wars-meets-Flying Leathernecks action motive . [but] even without dogfight
scenes, the wider story of how African Americans shot down race barriers is every bit as dramatic and exciting." Wortman recommends the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit, Black Wings, currently in Tacoma, Wash., for a more in-depth view of the history of black pilots in the
Click here for the official film site with trailers, click
here for a behind-the-scenes look from Lucasfilm, click here to learn about the trouble Lucas had getting the film
financed, and click here for an AVweb podcast with Marcus Paulk, one of the actors in the film.
Wisconsin has apparently outbid Maine in attracting Kestrel Aircraft. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday that Kestrel's manufacturing and headquarters will be located in Superior, just
across the border from Kestrel CEO Alan Klapmeier's home of Duluth, Minn. "I am pleased with the aggressive package we have put forth in conjunction with strong local support to make this major job
creation contribution to Superior," Walker said in a news
release. "This relocation will be a huge boost to the Superior-area economy." Kestrel will get $22 million in direct tax incentives from Wisconsin agencies and will be supported in application for
$90 million in federal tax credits.
Kestrel originally announced that it would set up in Maine with incentives and support from local and state governments there but that changed just before Christmas. Klapmeier told Maine media the
state failed to come up with promised financing. Kestrel hopes to eventually hire up to 600 people to build its fast single-engine turboprop.
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Cessna celebrated the first flight of its Cessna Ten, a faster and updated version of the Citation X that may preserve Cessna's title to the fastest business jet. Cessna says the Ten will do 527
knots at maximum cruise with a maximum range of 3242 nm. Although it looks like a Citation X, it's actually about 15 inches longer and the Rolls Royce AE 3007C2 engines also give it a certified
ceiling of 51,000 feet. "Our first flight, today, was a great success. We have a great team working on this project and I know they will take this dominant aircraft up a notch," said Kelly Reich,
business leader for the Cessna Citation X and Ten, in a news release.
The aircraft also uses the latest panel from Garmin, the G5000, which is state of the art for navigation, synthetic vision, systems and communications. "The high-resolution multi-function displays
have split-screen capability, allowing continuous monitoring of engine, flight control, hydraulic and electrical systems. "Garmin's SVT synthetic vision technology on the primary flight displays gives
the crew a virtual reality view of runways, terrain, traffic and obstacles. Electronic charts with aircraft position overlay provide dynamic situational awareness during approach." Certification is
planned for early 2013 and first deliveries in the second half of 2013.
Embraer is planning to bid on at least three more U.S. Air Force contracts as it awaits word on the legal challenge to its recent victory in the competition for a light air support platform. In an
interview with Reuters, Luiz Carlos Aguiar was dismissive about Hawker Beechcraft's legal
challenge to the contract award, in which the Air Force chose Embraer's Super Tucano after kicking Hawker Beech's AT-6B out of the competition. The Air Force has since suspended work on the LAS
project but Aguiar told Reuters he expects a speedy decision by the courts to confirm the contract and allow deliveries of the armed-to-the-teeth turboprop single to begin this year from a plant in
Jacksonville. "Our team is totally ready. No one was deactivated," said Aguiar. "You just press the button and we go to work." Aguiar said he expects the $950 million Super Tucano deal to be a
springboard for more international defense work for Embraer.
The U.S. deal is Embraer's first with a NATO alliance member and he said it should pave the way for deals with other NATO countries. "It naturally opens the door to the NATO countries, which have
many joint operations," he said. Aguiar didn't specify which other U.S. contracts it's bidding on but it's developing UAVs and a military transport known as the KC-390.
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Last weekend's grounding of the Costa Concordia reminded Paul Bertorelli of another event that happened almost three years ago to the day: U.S. Air 1549's Hudson ditching. But how the two
crews behaved is a study in contrasts, says Paul on the AVweb Insider blog -- if not cowardice.
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Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Thunderbird Aviation at Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM) in
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.
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