NewsWire Complete Issue

March 17, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff

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The GA Traffic Jam

Isolated To Palm Beach...

As air traffic volumes -- both GA and commercial -- rebound, we can't help but wonder if Sunday afternoons at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) are a harbinger of things to come, particularly if the air taxi business takes off the way some predict it will. The FAA now routinely cuts arrivals at PBI by one-third on Sunday afternoons so that weekend visitors to the tourist area can get out. FAA spokesman Christopher White told AVweb that most of those flying into PBI in private aircraft (up to 400 each winter weekend) want to be back at their desks on Monday morning. "The problem is they arrive over a period of one or two days but they all want to leave on Sunday afternoon," White said. Until the new procedures were put in place, delays of up to three hours plagued both commercial and private departures on Sunday afternoons. But White said the burden was disproportionately borne by departing aircraft so the decision was made to reduce arrivals from 36 per hour to 24 per hour when there's a lineup of planes wanting to leave. He said there are no set hours for the arrival restrictions and they are only imposed as needed (which may make planning a timely arrival a bit challenging). The restrictions are usually in place anywhere between noon and 6 p.m. Anyone flying into Palm Beach on Sunday afternoon during tourist season should be ready for delays, he said.

...Or Symbolic Of A National Trend?

The Palm Beach situation could be a microcosm of the double-whammy effect of 9/11 on both commercial and private aircraft operations. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, corporate aviation traffic is up by 25 percent at PBI, largely because of the increased hassle and inconvenience of commercial air travel caused by beefed-up security precautions. At the same time, airline numbers are recovering to pre-9/11 levels and the inevitable result is too many airplanes trying to use the same facilities. White said he's unaware of any other airports imposing arrivals restrictions. In January, the FAA ordered United Air Lines and American Airlines to cut a total of 62 flights to Chicago O'Hare during peak hours to reduce delays. Other areas are also noticing a significant increase in private aircraft use. While airline business travel is still off by 20 percent at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, corporate jet operations now account for a third of the flights at the airport. "We see a business jet resurgence in the West," Amanda North, regional vice president for Executive Jet Management, told the San Jose Business Journal. But it's not only turbofans that are powering the corporate-aviation upsurge. The News-Herald of Willoughby, Ohio, found local businessmen who have been obtaining or renewing pilots licenses so they can fly themselves to appointments. They told the newspaper that convenience, efficiency and easier access via small airports were behind their decisions to get into the left seat.

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Popularity Grows for Aviation's Latest Gaseous Sac

Mooney Latest To Offer Airbags...

If safety sells, Mooney may be hoping a new airbag option on its Ovation 2 DX/GX and Bravo DX/GX models will help its customers forget about the parachutes proliferating on at least one worthy competitor. For an extra $6,000, Mooney buyers will now be able to add Amsafe seatbelt/airbag combinations to all four seats. The seatbelts, which are a little thicker than regular webbing, contain the airbag and inflation system that throws a cushion of air between occupant and airframe when sensors detect a 9-G deceleration. "We strongly feel that by offering the inflatable seatbelt we have not only listened to our current customers but have addressed the issue of increasing safety with no need for other uncontrollable devices such as a parachute system," said Mooney VP Nicolas Chabbert. Chabbert said the certification program is underway and airbag-equipped Mooneys should be available by mid-summer. Mooney isn't the only company looking at airbags on a GA aircraft, however. Aircraft Manufacturing and Development, which makes the CH200 Alarus trainer, has tested the inflatable seatbelts, but the company's Web site does not say if and when the airbags will be available. Gippsland, the Australian maker of a large utility single called the Airvan, also offers the airbags, as does Aviat.

...Airbus, Airlines Show Interest...

Airlines are the main marketing target for Amsafe and dozens have already installed the airbags, but usually only on specific seats in the aircraft. If you want the additional safety an airbag might offer, choose a seat in the first row or right behind any mid-cabin bulkheads. However, you may be trading the additional breathing space those seats used to offer for the airbag on your lap. Current regulations require those seats to be at least 41 inches from the wall so that a passenger won't hit his or her head in a crash. Seats in the rest of the plane are usually about 32 inches apart. The installation of the airbag removes that requirement for extra space at the bulkheads, possibly meaning an extra row or two can be stuffed into the plane. Not all applications make the cheap seats even cheaper, however. The airbags help "upper class" customers on Virgin Atlantic get a good night's sleep. The airline has equipped some of its Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s with diagonal sleeper seats that allow passengers to lie flat in flight. The airbags provide side-impact protection necessary to allow the seating arrangement to comply with safety standards. Although Amsafe doesn't provide a list of airlines using the airbags, it appears to have more interest from non-U.S. carriers. Air Canada is among the latest to install the system and has retrofitted its entire fleet of A319s and A320s. And Airbus has apparently decided they are an option some of its customers might want. New A340s and A320s purchased by Air Canada will have the airbags factory-installed.

...Manufacturer Cites Stats

Although it appears the airlines are embracing the inflatable seatbelts to possibly squeeze in more seats or enhance passenger comfort, Amsafe says there are sound safety reasons to equip aircraft with its airbags. It cites an NTSB study that estimates that 77 percent of aircraft accidents are survivable, but unconscious victims die in the post-crash fire. The company claims the airbags help prevent passengers from being knocked out by the initial impact so they can get out of the wreckage. Amsafe spokesman Larry Williams told The Arizona Republic he believes FAA standards will eventually catch up with the technology. "But we feel they eventually will go the way of automobile airbags once people realize they can save lives in crashes," he said. "Airbags in cars have had a huge impact on preventing injuries. These will do the same thing." Another concern sometimes expressed by potential customers is that the airbags will go off accidentally from a hard landing or turbulence. The company says its system of sensors makes the chance of accidental inflation about one in 10 million. Williams said none of the belts in service has gone off prematurely.

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Alphabets Push For Washington Access

The National Business Aircraft Association, AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the National Air Transportation Association gave presentations Tuesday at a congressional hearing to urge the creation of a workable set of security procedures to allow bizjets back into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). "[T]he fact is that our nation's security organizations have not failed to find a workable solution that will bring general aviation back to [DCA] -- it is that they have failed to even try," said GAMA President Ed Bolen. It was also noted that the FAA has failed to provide written justification for the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), as mandated by the FAA reauthorization bill. AOPA President Phil Boyer used the hearing to proclaim, "College Park Airport is our Reagan National, and needs to be set free." AOPA urged the reopening of DCA to GA traffic and made a pitch for eliminating the ADIZ that now blankets the Washington and Baltimore areas. Boyer told the hearing the security justification for the ADIZ no longer exists and that it's causing an unnecessary strain on pilots and air traffic control. Pilots entering the ADIZ must receive ATC clearance and squawk a discrete transponder code. Boyer played tapes of confused exchanges between pilots and ATC and also told of personal hardships caused by accidental contravention of the ADIZ rules. As AVweb's sister publication Business AVflash reported Wednesday, most of the hearing was devoted to developing a plan to allow direct access by business aircraft to DCA.

Eclipse Calls For Transparency ... Aggressively

Citing the fall of Enron, Tyco, Pharmalat and Martha Stewart (and with all the competitive zeal of a presidential campaign), Eclipse Aviation Tuesday announced what may be both a timely and popular shift in philosophy. "At Eclipse, we have pondered how to provide increased transparency," wrote President and CEO Vern Raburn, whose company once upon a time withheld from anyone but its investors its production process and order numbers while also seeking orders for its then non-existent jet (a practice not so uncommon in the industry). Rayburn says of Eclipse, "like all companies without a product on the market, we have to make claims that can only be confirmed in the future, when our product is available." Tuesday, Eclipse declared, "Let Me Show You Why What I Say Is True," and labeled its competition -- specifically Adam, Avocet and Safire -- as "new companies [in which] transparency has been sorely missing." Raburn cited instances in which Adam, Safire and Avocet made highly public promises about development and certification timetables and failed to deliver.

Eclipse, of course, knows something about missing development targets, thanks to its engine problems a year ago, and claims a new feature of its Web site will end any mystery about how its program is proceeding. As of yesterday, Eclipse has pledged to provide "a completely unprecedented window into a development and certification program for a new aircraft." The company's Web site now offers a new section called "Track Our Progress" (accessible from this page). The new section lists "over 200 tasks and milestones (a subset of our 3,000+ item Master Schedule) that we must achieve from now through the FAA Certification of the Eclipse 500 in early 2006 and JAA Certification at the end of 2006."

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Pilot Suspended For Tornado-Landing Attempt

A Northwest Airlines pilot who attempted to land at Sioux Falls Airport last year near a tornado has had his certificate suspended by the FAA for 45 days. But Michael Hughes gets to keep flying while he appeals the suspension. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported that the FAA found that Hughes violated regulations by ignoring warnings about severe weather, including an approaching twister. Despite the warnings, Hughes continued his approach and asked for a clearance to go lower. The report says wind shear finally caused the plane to go briefly out of control. The pilot then diverted the DC-9 to Omaha, where it landed safely. At least one passenger on the plane said she's glad Hughes is being sanctioned. "What they put people through that night. I'm glad something was done," Chris Wright told Keloland Television. But she also said she didn't think Hughes deserved to have his certificate pulled permanently, although she personally wouldn't take any chances with him. "I really don't know if I'd fly with him," she said.

Neighbors Battle Aerobatics Practice Area

The battle for the skies over Iowa County, Wisconsin, has reached the halls of Congress as residents of the rural area step up a campaign to ban low-level aerobatic practice near their homes. "Imagine someone holding a chainsaw next to your head hours on end, day after day," Coleman (he uses one name), a software designer who works out of his home on 46 acres in rural Mineral Point, told the Wisconsin State Journal. Competition aerobatic pilots Jeff Mawhinney and Harvey Tidball received a low-level waiver for a box over the Iowa County Airport a year ago and it's up for renewal this month. Neighbors have contacted their federal representatives to pressure the FAA into not renewing the waiver. The contest is not so unique and pilots at Hanscom field in Massachusetts may be taking note. Mawhinney, one of the pilots, suggested to the Journal that the neighbors might be expecting too much from their rural surroundings. "The big thing that's upsetting them is they expect walking out their doors and hearing nothing, peace and tranquility, zero," he said. AOPA spokesman Jeff Myers said there's a larger jurisdictional issue at stake. "These people are saying 'I own the land from the ground to infinity,'" said Myers. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory told the Journal that while inspector handbooks recommend that the effect of noise on nearby residents be considered when issuing a waiver, there's no law that requires it. So far there's no mention of lawsuits in this case.

DIAMOND ENGINEERS REDESIGN DA40 PANEL TO OPTIMIZE FORM AND FUNCTION Diamond's DA40 is the platform for the first certified installation of Garmin's new integrated glass panel. The G1000 offers better situational awareness by rolling the functions of conventional panel-mounted instruments into two 10-inch sunlight-readable displays, including digital audio, a WAAS-capable IFR GPS, VHF navigation with ILS and VHF communication, 8.33-kHz-channel spacing, Mode S, solid-state attitude and heading, a digital air data computer and optional weather and terrain data — all hooked up to a Bendix/King KAP two-axis autopilot. The jet-style, laser-etched polycarbonate overlay adds the final high-tech touch. For more information on the DA40 and Diamond Aircraft's other innovative aircraft designs, go to

New Piper Adds To Staff

As layoffs continue at some aircraft manufacturers, New Piper has actually added about 100 employees since being purchased by American Capital Strategies about six months ago. The company now employs about 820 people, about half its full-production complement of 1,600. Spokesman Mark Miller told that a resumption of engine deliveries from Lycoming (previously affected by a crankshaft debacle) was a major factor in the hiring trend. Production was halted on several Piper models last year when Lycoming recalled 540-series engines to replace their crankshafts. But, as with many other manufacturers, it was a federal tax provision that powered Piper's recovery and the company is going to extraordinary lengths to help ensure it is extended. Miller said Piper CEO Chuck Suma is writing every member of Congress urging an extension of the bonus depreciation provision past its scheduled expiration date at the end of 2004. The provision, cited by most manufacturers for an increase in sales in the past year, allows companies to depreciate capital purchases, like airplanes, at a much higher rate than usual in the first year. The tax break amounts to a substantial price discount for many buyers. Allowing the program to expire "will hurt the momentum we've built up," said Miller. "This is a very fragile recovery. We need to see a very solid economic rebound before we can rebound solidly ourselves."

One State's Approach To GA Security

Tennessee continues to funnel money for security measures at GA airports and the initiatives follow a familiar theme. The state's Department of Transportation is distributing $1 million in federal grants to build fences, install gates and add lighting at some of its 69 GA airports. Individual airports are eligible for up to $50,000 each year for the upgrades. Airport operators like the improvements in the physical security of airports but Jon Glass, director of the Tullahoma Airport Authority, said it's the people who use the airports who are the most important safeguard against improper use. "We are in a situation here where everybody still kind of knows each other," Glass told The Tennessean. "If someone sees something suspicious, it's a matter of dealing with it." John Black, director of Smyrna Airport, said more sophisticated security measures, such as terminal cameras, will be necessary as more people start using private aviation as a way to escape the increasing inconvenience of commercial air travel. "You will find more and more general aviation airports are putting in cameras, at least in the terminal, so they have a record of who is coming and going," he said. But he also said that those who choose GA do so because its faster and more convenient and those advantages must be kept in mind. "General aviation needs to be user-friendly because that's the beauty of it."

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More Engines Included In Crankshaft Bolt AD

A new Airworthiness Directive (AD) has been issued (for an old Mandatory Service Bulletin) to include 161 engines not included in a rule concerning the replacement of crankshaft retaining bolts on Lycoming 540-series engines. The latest rule takes effect at the end of the month, with no notice period, because of the serious nature of the problem. However, it comes about six months after Lycoming issued a Service Bulletin listing the affected engines. The original AD was issued in November 2002 after zinc-coated crankshaft retaining bolts failed in two 540-series engines. Cadmium-coated bolts replace the zinc-coated bolts. The AD also approves five kits, developed by Lycoming, to conduct repairs on the affected engines. A spokesman for Lycoming said the recall of the 161 engines is nothing new, but rather the FAA's catching up to the Service Bulletin already issued by Lycoming.

On The Fly...

Pilot disorientation is the probable cause of a Cirrus SR-22 crash Jan. 18, 2003, according to the NTSB's final report on the accident, which occurred near Hill City, Minn. The pilot, Gary Prokop, and passenger James Cosak died in the crash. Prokop had only a VFR rating and flew into IMC inadvertently before the crash. There were no problems found with the plane...

A student pilot survived five days in the Malaysian jungle but his instructor wasn't so lucky. Mohd Nazarullah Mohd Sultan was found alive about a mile from the crashed Piper PA28. He had a broken arm and broken leg. Instructor Nasir Ma Lee was found dead about 650 feet from the wreckage...

The Collings Foundation's B-17, B-24 and B-25 bombers will visit Austin, Texas, at the end of the month. The fully restored World War II bombers will be open for tours (for a small fee) at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport from March 31 to April 2.

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New Articles and Features on AVweb

The Savvy Aviator #3: Whom Can You Trust?
As aviators, we often find ourselves in the position of having to trust other people with our lives, our safety, and our financial well-being. We trust air traffic controllers to keep us from hitting anything, mechanics to keep our aircraft airworthy, engine manufacturers and overhaul shops to build engines that won't quit, salesmen and brokers to help us find an aircraft to buy, insurance agents to help us protect against contingencies, and so forth. But whom can you really trust? Mike Busch offers some thoughts on that subject.

Business AVflash

HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read! Sign up today at

Just like in every issue, Pilot Getaways' Spring Issue leads you to some aviation-friendly destinations around the country: A grass strip on Cape Cod, an international airport in San Francisco, a WWII-themed hotel in Texas — even a gravel bush strip in the California mountains. Don't miss out on the best information for flying with your airplane. Subscribe today at

AVweb's Question of the Week ...


Last week, AVweb asked readers about the increasing gulf between technology and flight training.  Our readership was split almost evenly across the four points of view.  The most popular response (by a narrow margin, with 34% of the vote) was that pilots are being increasingly trained in high-tech systems, and when those systems go down, newer pilots may not be prepared to fly.  28% of you welcomed technological advances with open arms, while another 17% were wary that we're headed toward a world where pilots will need a type rating for each individual panel box.


This week, AVweb would like hear what our readers are paying for storage and hangar costs.  Click here to participate.

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to

Note: This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers.

... with some new friends to enjoy at air shows. New shirts and original short-sleeve black shirts now available in Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large. Join in the Lazy Buzzard's journey of finding life, liberty, and the definite pursuit of happiness at

AVweb's Picture of the Week ...

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions

Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners

Breath-taking images continue to roll into AVweb headquarters by the dozen!  It's getting harder and harder to pick a winner, but these nifty AVweb ball caps aren't going to give themselves away — so it's nose to the grindstone, looking at our readers' stunning photo submissions week after week.  After much deliberation, we've awarded this week's "POTW" title (and a complimentary baseball cap) to Gary Dikkers of Madison, Wisconsin.  His winning T-38 cockpit photo was taken 30 years ago in the skies over Pueblo, Colorado.  Dikkers was an Air Force instructor pilot at the time and worked hard to line the sun flare up with the IP's usual position in the backseat.  "I wanted it to look as though the IP of the other airplane was all-powerful," writes Dikkers.

Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.



"T-38 Over Pueblo"
Gary Dikkers of Madison, WI submitted this week's winning photo,
taken in 1972 over Pueblo, Colorado

Click here to view a medium-sized version of this image
Click here to view a large version of this image

AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view larger versions.

"So You're Sure the Chute Will Open from This Altitude?"
Carlos Granier-Phelps of Caracas, Venezuela
submitted this photo of a Pilatus Porter making a low-altitude pass
on a skydiving run near La Tortuga island, off the Venezuelan coast

Bobby P. Hargrave of Cantonment, Florida
sends us this picture of him with a Cessna in 1954;
his dad was the photographer

To enter next week's contest, click here.

A Reminder About Copyrights:  Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest.  If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb.  If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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There are a few openings left for CPA's "182R & Earlier Systems & Procedures" seminar scheduled for March 27-28 in Santa Maria, CA. Member or non-member, nowhere else can you find all the answers to any questions about Cessna aircraft's systems and procedures. You've invested a lot of time and money in your aircraft — with CPA's help, you can have a working relationship with it. Call (800) 343-6416 or (805) 922-2580 and mention this AVflash, or go online for more information on courses, seminars, and the benefits of CPA membership at

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During the month of March, Gleim Publications is offering a 10% discount on their Flight Maneuvers books and 15% on their new Flight Bag. Plus, don't miss the best Flight Instructor Refresher Course on the planet, with a special discount to AVweb subscribers. All at

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Kitplanes Magazine's May issue highlights: "A Flying Catamaran," the Aerocat amphibian; "Getting Your Feet Wet," an introduction for pilots considering the possibility of mounting straight or amphibious floats; "Building a SeaRey," a dream realized building this flying boat; "Engine Monitors for Experimentals, Part 2," continuing review of the latest engine monitoring tools for today's homebuilt cockpits; "Building Together," team building is a team effort; "Flying the Mosquito," a helicopter on a budget; "Old Dog, New Tricks," transitioning from fixed-wing to trikes; and "Corn on the Taube, Part 2," carving propellers at Culver Propellers. Planning, building, or dreaming, Kitplanes Magazine is a must-read for homebuilders and wannabes. Order your subscription online at

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