AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 7b

February 16, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! FAA Makes Way for Drones back to top 

Coming Soon: Era Of UAS?

The new FAA reauthorization bill that was signed into law this week by President Obama (PDF) creates a fast track for the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace. The legislation states that the FAA and the UAS industry must work together to develop a "comprehensive plan" by mid-November that will safely achieve the full integration of UAS by Sept. 30, 2015. Deadlines for certain smaller systems are set even sooner. For example, first responders will be allowed to fly small UAS weighing 4.4 pounds or less within 90 days. And within six months, the FAA must designate six test ranges where the UAS can fly to develop their sense-and-avoid capabilities.

Within one year, small UAS under 55 pounds will be allowed to fly in the Arctic regions of the U.S., 24 hours a day, at an altitude of at least 2,000 feet. By mid-2014, small UAS that weigh under 55 pounds will be allowed to fly in the national airspace system. "Technology is advancing to the point where we now know these systems can reliably fly," said Michael Toscano, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. "The next step is to work on the regulations that govern the rules of the sky to ensure that unmanned aircraft do no harm to other manned aircraft or to people or property on the ground." The legislation says that all UAS must have a "sense and avoid capability," and standards will be set for the licensing of operators. The FAA also will be required to study the causes of accidents involving UAS.

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Lean Times Ahead for Air Travel? back to top 

Obama Budget Would Cut Airline, Airport Funding

The new Obama administration budget proposal, released on Monday, had general aviation advocates worried about user fees, but other aviation sectors have also found cause for concern. The Air Line Pilots Association was unhappy about proposed cuts of $36 million from the Federal Air Marshal Service and $13 million from the federal flight deck officer program, which trains volunteer pilots to carry firearms on board. Lee Moak, president of ALPA, said funding for the FFDO program is already "minimal," and any further reduction "could very well lead to its ultimate demise." Airlines would face increased security fees, as well as a $100 departure fee to help cover the cost of the air traffic control system. Funding for improvements at medium and large airports would be cut by 27 percent.

Airline travelers, under the proposal, would pay up to $25.5 billion in fees over the next 10 years, with the goal of covering the costs of aviation security through user fees "and not by the general taxpayers," according to the budget plan. However, $18 billion of those fees would go to pay down general government debt, not to provide security, according to The Wall Street Journal. It's widely expected that most of these proposals will be rejected by Congress, and the budget plan will never be enacted in its current form.

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Rotor Rodeo Wraps back to top 

Heli-Expo Draws Crowds And Buyers To Dallas

Heli-Expo, the annual event for vertical aviators, closed out on Tuesday with record attendance, reporting more than 19,000 visitors to the four-day show in Dallas. More than 650 exhibitors filled the show floor, and 60 helicopters were on display. Eurocopter announced sales of 191 aircraft at the show, valued at $1.44 billion. "For the whole of last year we sold 170 helicopters," Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling told Agence France Presse. "This year, we sold 191 in just three days." Of those sales, the newly upgraded EC130 T2, designed for tourism and transport, counted for 105. Russian Helicopters showed its new medium-lift aircraft, the Mi-171A2, a heavily upgraded version of the popular Soviet-era Mi-8. The new design features modern avionics, new engines, composite rotor blades, and seats for up to 26 passengers. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2014.

Over the weekend, the show opened with the introduction of a new "super-medium" design from Bell and an update from Robinson. Click here for video of the Bell 525 unveiling. The mood in the exhibit hall was "extremely upbeat" among both exhibitors and attendees, according to Helicopter Association International, which organizes the show. Manufacturers reported "very strong" sales, HAI said. "For four years in a row, now, Heli-Expo has grown in size and number of exhibitors," said HAI President Matt Zuccaro. "We're looking forward to next year's show in Las Vegas." Next year's show is set for March 4 to 7, 2013.

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History Comes Alive — At 9:10 Scale back to top 

British Spitfire Builders Attract Support

A group of aviation enthusiasts in the U.K. is steadily moving ahead with an ambitious plan to build a fleet of 90-percent-scale Spitfires, and the interest sparked by the project may have helped to save their local airport. Paul Fowler, owner of The Enstone Flying Club, attracted a lot of publicity with his plan to build a squadron of Spitfire replicas. The project drew visitors to the airport, and the local support to keep the field active seems to have been a factor in thwarting a proposal to build a solar powerplant on the field that would have interfered with flying. "It would be a tragedy if we lost this airfield, as it's one of the few places left like this in the country, and the chances of finding a place like this again are zero," Fowler told the Banbury Guardian.

The club has two Spitfire replicas in the works and is now offering shares to supporters who might want to be part of the project but don't want to be on the builder team. The first kit is more than half done and is expected to fly in April or May. The club also offers tailwheel training in a J3 Cub. "You could not find a more appropriate training aircraft for the Spitfire," says the club newsletter. "The J3 Cub has it all, a bit of a handful in crosswinds, challenging on hard surfaces, not a great view from the rear seat when solo ... . 25 hours tailwheel experience is all that is required."

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

FCC To Suspend LightSquared Plans

The FCC will indefinitely suspend LightSquared's authority to carry terrestrial broadband signals on frequencies close to GPS frequencies after receiving a report that concludes the two systems cannot currently coexist. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) wrote (PDF) the FCC on Tuesday saying there was no immediate solution to interference problems found in testing GPS units in the presence of the types of signals that LightSquared is proposing. The FCC conditionally allowed LightSquared to use frequency bands it owned adjacent to the GPS bands provided it could prove the broadband wouldn't step on GPS. A year of testing demonstrated serious and widespread interference according to NTIA. LightSquared says it "profoundly disagrees" with those findings and was fighting to have the FCC rule in its favor right up until the decision was announced. The battle isn't officially over yet.

According to PC World, the FCC was planning to issue a public notice of its intentions on Wednesday and will seek public comment on its plan and the NTIA's conclusions. The NTIA did leave a crack in the door by saying it would like to work with the FCC and industry to tackle the interference problems so that spectrum can be freed up to be used for broadband. LightSquared hasn't said what it intends to do with the decision which will effectively cancel its plans for a $14 billion high speed wireless system.

OEMs Laud Asia's Aerospace Future

Cessna says China will be in the top ten of business jet markets by 2025 and other Asian countries will combine to take a significant share of production. In a presentation at the Singapore Air Show, Trevor Esling, Cessna's VP of sales for the region said the performance of of the Asian market through the global recession has positioned it for major growth in medium to long term. "The region's economic resilience during the global financial crisis, rising national prosperity and Chinese liberalization make it likely that the business aviation market will mature at quite a rapid pace," Esling said. "Cessna, therefore, expects demand for light and mid-size aircraft to rise accordingly." If the bizjet OEMs are optimistic, the airline side is downright bullish.

Airbus VP of Sales John Leahy said the company expects the Asia-Pacific region to buy almost 10,000 airliners worth $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years. According to Reuters, Leahy said he expects the region to surpass the U.S. as the busiest place for air travel in that time. Rapid urbanization and economic growth are combining to create a huge middle class in Asia and that will translate into Asia-Pacific becoming the most important market for the industry.

Federal Budget Plan Includes Aviation User Fees

The Obama administration's 2013 budget proposal, released on Monday, includes a fee of $100 per flight for some general aviation aircraft, which drew a quick response from GA advocacy groups. AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, and EAA all protested the plan. The proposal exempts all piston aircraft, military and public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside controlled airspace, and flights that begin and end in Canada. Nonetheless, "AOPA finds little solace [in the piston exemption]," said AOPA President Craig Fuller. "In nations where user fees have been introduced, the fees have grown." However, in the bigger election-year picture, the proposal may not get far, anyway.

According to Reuters, the budget proposal is "expected to go nowhere in a divided Congress and is widely seen as more of a campaign document that frames his economic pitch to voters and seeks to shift the focus from deficits to economic growth." Reuters said the plan reflects the campaign effort to promote "economic fairness" and spread more of the tax burden to wealthier Americans. NBAA and other groups said they would lobby representatives in Congress to derail the plan. "Over the past several years, the general aviation community has worked with Congress to successfully beat back a number of bad ideas proposed by the White House," said NBAA President Ed Bolen. "We can do it again by getting everyone active and engaged with their elected officials."

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

Question of the Week: Pilot Confidence and Competence

This week's question comes from an AVweb reader who wants to know about your confidence as a pilot.

Dave Coriaty asks, "At what point in your flying career did you honestly feel to be at your peak of competence in all piloting situtations?"
(click to answer)

Last Week's Question: Results

Want to see the current breakdown of responses? Take a moment to answer the question yourself, and then you can view real-time results.

What's On Your Mind?

Have an idea for a new "Question of the Week"?
Send your suggestions to .

NOTE: This address is only for suggested "QOTW" questions, and not for "QOTW" answers or comments. (Use this form to send "QOTW" comments to our AVmail Editor.)

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

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 newstips@avweb.com. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

Forty-Seven Years in Aviation: A Memoir; Chapter 10: Strategic Air Command, Part 2

Assigned to a like-new KC-97 Stratotanker at MacDill AFB in 1956, Dick Taylor learned much about the plane just from flying it in front of thirsty B-47s: from the trivial (it never spent much time in its namesake, the stratosphere) to the essential (take lots of engine oil on a long trip).

Click here to read the 10th chapter.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Drone Tech Gets Creepy

Drones are much in the news lately, and it seems that each new story we publish describes remarkable progress, some of it a little on the creepy side. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli examines two developments that could just as easily tip toward the dark side.

Read more and join the conversation.

AVweb Insider Blog: What's EAA Up To?

Building out its base, that's what. And the only way to go is toward a broader, more general interest aviation audience that's not interested only in homebuilding. But on the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli asks if that doesn't make it look just like AOPA? And do we need to belong to both?

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Where's My Flying Car?

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

A practical flying car with everyman usability has so far eluded the public, but we may have already been introduced to a design that could lead to a breakthrough. Some of the major challenges of producing a point-to-point simple and safe to operate vehicle are technological in nature. Autonomous navigation (enter the destination, press a button, and allow the vehicle to navigate, communicate with, and autonomously avoid other aircraft) may be one key to safely organizing masses of flying vehicles in the same airspace. And as society progresses, the gap between the dream and reality may be shrinking.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

Video: CTLE Light Sport Police Aircraft

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

There's a new eye in the sky over Tulsa these days, and it's keeping an eye on things for the local sheriff's office for about 10 percent of the cost of a helicopter. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Roger Crow of Echo Flight Resources about the Flight Design CTLE law-enforcement platform based on a light sport aircraft.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to download the video directly.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Shelby County Airport (Alabaster, Alabama)

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

Our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to the FBO at Shelby County Airport (KEET) in Alabaster, Alabama.

AVweb reader Joe Barnhart shared his recent experience there:

My daughter and grandkids recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama. On our first trip to visit, I chose Shelby County Airport because of the low fuel price and the relative proximity to my daughter's home. Upon arrival, not only did I find the best fuel price in the Birmingham area but a first-class airport and FBO facility. On top of that, everyone was as friendly as I've ever encountered. Not only did the FBO bring a tug to park my Bellanca Viking; they put it under a covered tie-down at absolutley no charge! I'll definitely be back.

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!

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Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

We Want to See Your Vintage Photos

Hearty thanks to everyone who saw our editor's footnote in a recent installment of "Picture of the Week" noting that we haven't seen many vintage submissions lately — and made time to send us some! We don't have many (just a handful), but we've spent the last couple of weeks squirreling them away, hoping we'll get enough to photos from the days before digital cameras to do an "all-vintage" installment. If you've got some classic photos lying around you'd love to scan and share with a 100,000 or so of your closest friends in aviation, please — submit them here. (As always, you'll have to be a registered AVweb user to upload photos.)

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

This week's winning photo comes from Allan Davies of Helens, Merseyside (U.K.). Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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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:

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.

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