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Volume 18, Number 5a
January 30, 2012
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AVflash! Robots in the Skiesback to top 
Sponsor Announcement
Abu Dhabi Air Expo || 6-8 March 2012 || 
The Middle East's 1st GA Expo

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...

Northrop 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. More...

Jeppesen Mobile Flite Deck
Mobile FliteDeck:
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Aviation is transformed with the first interactive mobile enroute flight application. With Mobile FliteDeck and a Jeppesen electronic chart subscription, you'll benefit from immediate access to accurate information, improved situational and operational awareness, and a more streamlined flight process. The app's features include enroute chart data and Airway Manual® text, class-leading vector map imaging, and data-driven IFR and VFR terminal charts. Watch a video overview.
AVweb Welcomes Tom Blissback to top 

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...

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Another Day, Another Temporary Funding Initiativeback to top 

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 deadline. More...

IFD540 GPS/NAV/COM from Avidyne
Introducing Avidyne's IFD540 Touchscreen FMS/GPS/NAV/COM
As a slide-in replacement for existing 530 Series navigators, the new IFD540 sets a new standard for user interface simplicity. Leveraging the award-winning interface of our Entegra Release 9 system along with a highly intuitive touchscreen control, the IFD540 makes it much easier to access the information you want when you want it. Now you have a choice. And the choice is easy. Avidyne.

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Over the Fence, Under the Radarback to top 

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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Cessna Says "No" to Columbus Revivalback to top 

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...

New Roller Lifter System Repairs from 
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News Briefsback to top 

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...

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...

AVbuys || AVweb Stories About Great Deals 
in Aviation
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The Top Reporter on Our Crack Staff ... Is You!back to top 


Letter of the Week: The Case for Fuel Taxes

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 Chicago.

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 Citation.

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 gallon.

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.

Like 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.

Reid Sayre

Click through to read the rest of this week's letters.


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 What have you heard? More...

Light Plane Maintenance || Practical 
Maintenance Advice for Mechanics and Pilots
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Learn to recognize maintenance issues and take action before they turn into something big. Light Plane Maintenance shows you how.

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Opinion & Commentaryback to top 

If the genie popped out the bottle and granted you three wishes to witness three events in aviation history, which three would you pick? On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli offers his choices. Plus, there's a link to a cool 3-D video. Read more and join the conversation. More...

R-LOCs -- runway loss of control incidents -- are the leading result of aircraft accidents. Can you innoculate yourself against them? Flying more challenging training scenarios might help, says Paul Bertorelli on the AVweb Insider blog. Read more and join the conversation. More...

Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

It's easy for your company to be more proactive, flexible, and entrepreneurial with AVweb's cost-effective marketing programs. Discover the benefits of instant response, quick copy changes, monthly tracking reports, and interactive programs. To find out how simple it is to reach 255,000 qualified pilots, owners, and decision-makers weekly, click now for details.
AVweb Media: Look, Listen, Laugh and Learnback to top 

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...

Your Favorite FBOsback to top 


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 here.

AVweb is actively seeking out the best FBOs in the country and another one, submitted by you, will be spotlighted here next Monday!


The Lighter Side of Flightback to top 


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.

United 123:
"John Wayne ground, say winds please."

John Wayne Ground:
"Winds are variable between 110 and 120 at 6 knots."

John Wayne Ground (after a pause) :
"Actually, I guess they aren't that variable, are they?"

Mike Banner
via e-mail


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. More...

Names Behind the Newsback to top 


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:

Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Russ Niles

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Scott Simmons

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

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.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.