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CRACKING DOWN ON UAS USE
The Los Angeles
Police Department last week warned L.A. realtors to stop renting
remote-control aircraft to shoot aerial video and photos of their
listings. "We are just trying to inform the public to ensure that before
hiring these companies to operate these aircraft in federal airspace,
that they are abiding by the federal regulations to ensure safety,"
police Sgt. George Gonzalez told the L.A. Times.The LAPD, which operates its own
camera-equipped drone, said the images were obtained by an aircraft
flying at "several hundred feet" and might have violated FAA guidelines.
The practice has become a common sales tool (Google "aerial real estate
photography") that occupies a gray area of airspace regulations in light
of the low cost of increasingly capable and widely available
remote-control aircraft. The latest measure may be an expansion of FAA
action to shut down a California company's use of large helicopter
drones for film and television work. More...
DRONE TESTING SPARKS ETHICAL WARFARE DEBATE
Grumman's X-47B drone may represent "a major qualitative change in the
conduct of hostilities" according to the president of the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which reports to the Geneva
Conventions. The X-47B is entering tests to see it land on the deck of
an aircraft carrier, autonomously -- without in-cockpit or remote-pilot
input. That sort of capability is only a precursor to what's coming.
According to an Air Force report (PDF), the improvements in drone technology will
eventually give drones the capacity to make life-or-death decisions
while engaged in battle. And "increasingly humans will no longer be 'in
the loop' but rather 'on the loop.'" And that, according to ICRC
president Jacob Kellenberger, may challenge international law.
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NAMED AVWEB PUBLISHER
Aviation industry marketing and communications veteran Tom
Bliss has been named Publisher of AVweb, effective immediately.
Bliss, who is a 2200-hour commercial and instrument-rated pilot and
owner of a Cessna P210, has operated Bliss Marketing Multimedia since
1983. He will lead the future sales and market development of
AVweb, which is the world's premiere online aviation news source.
"Tom brings an extremely well-rounded resume to his role as publisher,"
said Tim Cole, executive vice president of Belvoir Media Group,
AVweb's parent company. "He is an accomplished pilot and a highly
regarded and experienced marketing communications professional who
understands our customers and can offer them valuable insights and
creative solutions to meet their promotional needs." More...
FAST-Flight: The Cure for
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|Another Day, Another Temporary Funding
FUNDS FAA (FOR A FEW MORE WEEKS)
The Senate Thursday followed
the House and approved a stopgap funding measure that will carry the
FAA through Feb. 17 at current funding levels. The temporary measure
provides funds through airport taxes and precedes another vote on
long-term funding, which is expected to take place in February. The
temporary measure is the 23rd of its kind and it replaces another that
was set to expire on Jan. 31. The last long-term FAA reauthorization
bill expired in 2007. For two weeks in 2011, Congress failed to provide
either temporary or long-term authorization for the FAA, leading the
agency to temporarily furlough thousands of workers and possibly tens of
thousands of contractors. Current reports suggest lawmakers are
optimistic they can reach an agreement prior to the new Feb. 17
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PATROL: PLANES USED TO SMUGGLE IMMIGRANTS
Pilots have begun
using small aircraft to smuggle illegal immigrants from the U.S.-Mexico
border to inland airports, according to authorities who last week seized
a Cessna from a Southern California airport and brought charges against
one pilot. "It seems to be a new avenue they're using," Border Patrol
Agent Adrian Corona told a local newspaper. Federal prosecutors say
30-year-old Lino Rodriguez-Chavez used a Cessna rented from Hemet-Ryan
Flight School in El Centro, California, to fly a group of illegal
immigrants from a location near the border to Hemet airport. The pilot
appeared in court Monday, entered a not guilty plea and was released on
$20,000 bond. Multiple flights have been intercepted by El Centro Border
Patrol agents in the past few years. More...
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Textron CEO Scott Donnelly says there are no plans
to resurrect the Cessna Columbus wide-cabin business jet project even
though big jets are selling well and the small-to-medium-sized business
jet sector has struggled. "The large market is pretty well-served,"
Donnelly told a conference call to discuss the company's financials. "I
don't think it would be the right use of our capital." Cessna is
defending its dominance in the smaller jet sector against a methodical
assault from Embraer and introduced two new models, the
M2 and the
Lattitude at NBAA in October, that are aimed directly at Embraer
offerings. Meanwhile, Donnelly says there are signs of recovery in the
market and Cessna made money last year. More...
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AS AN OASIS OF CALM
There's an airport where the symbol of
inner peace and outer calm reigns and it's not in one of those little
holding cages on the wrong side of the security lineup. San Francisco
Airport has set aside 150 square feet of its sprawling footprint for the
practice of yoga. The silent room is, perhaps appropriately, just inside
where travelers reassemble themselves after security and was inspired by
a comment made by a traveler to airport director John Martin, who has
practiced yoga for 18 years. The traveler said the newly-renovated
Terminal 2 had everything but a yoga room. "We took that charge to heart
and here it is," Martin told the Half Moon Bay Patch. "It's already getting a lot of
use. People love it." More...
BANDIT: "ANYONE ELSE WOULD HAVE DIED"
In his courtroom
appearances, Colton Harris-Moore, the late-teen who stole five airplanes
as part of a two-year crime spree, appeared to be remorseful, but he
saved his self-praise and color commentary for later, according to new
reports. E-mails Harris-Moore sent from prison were monitored by
authorities and detailed in a memorandum filed by federal prosecutors
ahead of a hearing scheduled to take place in a Seattle court, Friday,
Jan. 27. According to that document, the young man referred to police
and the prosecution as "fools" and "swine," among more colorful
language. Harris-Moore's attorney argues the clips are representative of
isolated emotions cherry-picked from personal correspondence to
negatively impact her client. As released, the e-mails appear to show
the young thief had a distinctly more positive opinion of himself and,
specifically, of his piloting abilities. More...
Fly More for
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|The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!||back to
JANUARY 30, 2012
Letter of the Week: The Case for Fuel
Regarding aviation user
fees: I assert that the "user" of the ATC system is not the airline
or airplane, but the person traveling. The person traveling needs ATC to
get him or her safely to his or her destination. If you want to charge
per flight, you should charge per passenger on that flight. In that
case, an airliner carrying 200 passengers should pay more than a
corporate jet carrying four passengers. In fact, it should pay about
fifty times more.
In addition, you should charge more for longer
flights than for shorter flights. A flight from New York to Los Angeles
spends more time in ATC than a flight from New York to
Now, in order to collect this fee, a whole new
bureaucracy will have to be developed. Who is going to track the fifty
million individual flights each year? How is the money paid? Who will
audit all of this? How do the many corporate jets figure into all of
this? And what about air freight?
Let's look for a cheaper way to
fund ATC that is still equitable.
It turns out that, when measured
by passenger-mile, most airplanes get about the same mileage, about 60
passenger-miles per gallon. Now, there is a range, but it's not six
passenger-miles per gallon, and it's not six hundred passenger-miles per
gallon, either and it tracks reasonably close for a 737 or a
Let's take a commercial flight of 1,000 miles with 200
passengers. That's about 200,000 passenger-miles. At sixty passenger
miles per gallon, that's about 3,000 gallons of fuel. If you want to
recover $100 from this flight, that's about three cents per
At three dollars per gallon fuel cost, that's about one
percent. Sure, people will complain. But it will be a whole lot cheaper
with much less hassle than collecting this fee separately.
everyone else, I don't like paying taxes, but I also believe that there
are government services that need to be paid for, and they need to be
paid for, directly or indirectly, by the people who benefit from the
service. In this case, given a choice of fuel tax or [a] separately
calculated and charged fee, I go with the tax.
Click through to read the rest of this week's
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SPORT AVIATION EXPO 2012: VIDEO ROUND-UP
Did you miss any of our video
coverage of the 2012 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida? We
were on hand to kick tires, ask questions, and fly some of this year's
most exciting light sport airplanes. Be sure to check out our videos on
the FK12 Comet biplane, the Vans RV-12, Flight Design's CTLE light sport
police aircraft, the Renegade Falcon LS, Allegro Airplanes, and Corbi's
air conditioning system for LSAs. More...
OF THE WEEK: FRANKLIN AVIATION (K1A5, FRANKLIN, NORTH
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Franklin Aviation at Macon County Airport
(K1A5) in Franklin, North Carolina.
AVweb reader Gerry
McCarley is a regular at 1A5 and vouched for Franlin's top-notch
service in his recommendation of the FBO:
I visit Franklin Aviation several times a
year. Their customer care and service are some of the best I have found.
On a recent visit (over Christmas) the weather changed, and snow/ice was
forecast. Without my asking, Neil and his people found space in their
hangar and kept my airplane inside over that night. Their fuel prices
are competitive, and with the new extended runway and GPS approach, it's
one of the best places to stop.
Keep those nominations
coming. For complete contest rules, click
AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in
the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here
next Monday! More...
Heard this at John Wayne Airport recently. The
airliners often like to take off from runway 1L if the wind is within
their take-off limits to save fuel.
"John Wayne ground, say winds please."
"Winds are variable between 110 and 120 at 6
John Wayne Ground (after a pause)
"Actually, I guess they aren't that variable, are
THE AVWEBFLASH TEAM
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here or contact Tom Bliss,
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editor. (Please let us know if your letter is not
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