AVwebFlash - Volume 18, Number 26b

June 28, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Fuel Committee Lays Out the Long Game back to top 

Avgas Committee Report Released

The Unleaded Avgas Transition-Advanced Rulemaking Committee (ARC)'s report on its recommended path to a suitable replacement for 100LL has been released to the public by the FAA (two months after the stakeholders committee completed the report) and as we reported in May it will be, under the committee's recommendations, at least 11 years before such a fuel (or fuels) is approved and the committee is also warning it could take longer than that. Total cost could reach $73 million with $60 million having to be approved by Congress. Despite the many pitfalls outlined in the report, the authors try to strike a hopeful tone. "We are in fact very encouraged that a satisfactory solution will be deployed in a timely manner and none of us will see our aircraft or our operations significantly compromised. The summary of the report is here (PDF). The full report is here (large PDF) and the appendices are here (PDF).

Alphabet groups that are members of the Avgas Coalition simultaneously released a joint statement that outlined key points of the report but didn't pass judgment on it. "The GA associations will continue to work with the FAA in developing, implementing and funding an unleaded avgas plan that includes the key elements outlined in the ARC's report which are necessary to facilitate the development and deployment of an unleaded avgas with least impact upon the existing piston-engine aircraft fleet," the statement read.

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Military, Air Tankers on the Front Lines back to top 

National Guard Joins The Firefight

As the wildfire begins in earnest in 2012, the Forest Service is operating with roughly half of the aircraft it had only a decade ago, stirring some controversy about aviation firefighting resources. Earlier this month, President Obama signed a bill to add larger tankers to the Forest Service's aerial firefighting fleet and, separately, four Air Force C-130s have now been scheduled to join the fight against an active blaze in Colorado. Aside from those aircraft, at least four more Air National Guard aircraft are equipped and ready to go. But, as the Forest Service told Philly.com this week, it can't request Guard aircraft unless all private tankers are already engaged or otherwise unavailable.

The Air National Guard has eight C-130 cargo aircraft in Wyoming fitted for slurry drops and needs roughly two days notice to respond. And the Forest Service already has eight aircraft on lease from the state of California and Canada. Recent efforts will bring in two BAe-146 aircraft from Montana and another from Nevada. That will bring the Forest Service's aerial firefighting fleet to 20 large tanker aircraft. Eleven more that can be called into service (including National Guard C-130s). Ten years ago, the fleet numbered roughly 45 aircraft. Two fatal crashes led the Forest Service in 2004 to temporarily ground three-quarters of the fleet and resources have been slow to recover. Regardless of the overall size of the fleet, the dynamics of modern aerial firefighting often restricts the number of aircraft that can work any one fire at a time.

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Labor, Management Clash at Air India back to top 

Air India Pilots Launch Hunger Strike

Eleven Air India pilots started a hunger strike this week to protest disparities in pay and career advancement for former union members. About 400 pilots have been on strike since May. They were members of the India Pilots Guild, which has been de-recognized by the government. The airline has refused to reinstate about 100 pilots who held offices in the union. "They have the right to go on hunger strike. It will be good for their health," Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told IBNLive.

The 11 pilots have declared they will fast "indefinitely," according to IANS, and are seated on a stage in the heart of New Delhi. "Our protest is for the reinstatement of our sacked colleagues and for the recognition of our union," Rohit Kapahi, of the pilots guild, told IANS. Singh has invited the striking pilots to return to work, and said the sacked pilots would be reinstated on a case-by-case basis.

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Airliners and Safety back to top 

FAA Reverses Course On Oxygen

Last year, the FAA ordered airlines to disable emergency oxygen generators that supply decompression masks in lavatories, citing terrorism concerns. This week, the FAA reversed that order, and gave the airlines three years to restore the systems. The change affects about 5,500 airplanes, the FAA said, and will cost about $45 million. The FAA noted that while "no specific designs" are currently available that would meet the FAA's safety criteria, "airframe manufacturers and aftermarket modifiers are working on acceptable designs, and we expect that there will be more than one solution available."

Kate Hanni, spokesperson for FlyersRights, told USA Today that the group welcomes the change. "It's about time," she said, noting that if decompression occurs at 40,000 feet, passengers can lose consciousness in 15 to 20 seconds. "We are relieved that the airlines will be correcting the failure to protect the public while using a lavatory at 33,000 feet, but are left wondering why the FAA did not order oxygen replaced sooner," she said. A USA Today analysis of FAA data showed that airlines reported deployment of emergency oxygen masks on 105 flights from 2001 through October 2011. The Association of Flight Attendants also had objected to the order to disable the systems.

Sukhoi, Post Superjet Crash

Fallout from the May 9 crash of Russia's first completely new post-Soviet era passenger jet may bring changes to how Sukhoi pilots are prepared for display flights, RiaNovosti reported, Wednesday. Last month's crash destroyed a Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100 airliner, killing all 44 passengers aboard when the demo flight impacted a mountain slope near its departure point at Jakarta, Indonesia. Mikhail Pogosyan, head of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, announced last week that the investigation has yet found no faults with the aircraft. And Sukhoi has now said it will consider the recommendations of Indonesia's National Transport Security Committee (NTSC) regarding flight operations.

The NTSC has recommended the Russian manufacturer review its demo-flight procedures regarding how pilots are prepared for display flights. According to Sukhoi, those recommendations will be taken into account during a detailed analysis of the procedures. The NTSC has not published additional recommendations and current procedures will remain pending review. The recent statement from Pogosyan along with the actions of the NTSC and Sukhoi's response are leading some industry observers to speculate that pilot error caused the crash. However, the investigation is still ongoing and the fate of the new jet could be affected if its design or engineering is implicated.

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On Approach to Oshkosh back to top 

Skycatcher Takes A Summer Tour

Nine lucky young flight instructors have scored a pretty great summer job, thanks to a tour Cessna is sponsoring to promote its Skycatcher light sport aircraft. The CFIs left Cessna's facility in Independence, Kan., on Saturday, flying Skycatchers with identical custom paint jobs. For five weeks, they'll take part in fly-ins, airshows and Cessna events around the country, giving rides and blogging as they go, and promoting the brand via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The strategy aims to "introduce [the airplane] to the flying public," said Tracy Leopold, Cessna business leader for the Skycatcher. "We have found that once people experience flight in a Skycatcher, their interest in the product increases."

This week, the interns were headed for New York, Indiana, Maryland, Louisiana, and New Mexico. They'll finish up their touring at EAA AirVenture, in Oshkosh, Wis., next month. Most of the interns are college seniors or recent graduates from aviation universities, although a few are slightly older and already working as flight instructors. The Skycatcher was introduced about five years ago, and sells for $149,000.

AirVenture On The Horizon

EAA AirVenture is coming up fast, with opening day set for Monday, July 23, and EAA said this week visitors already have started to arrive in the camping areas. The current Notam, essential reading for pilots who are flying in, has been posted on the AirVenture web site. The website also offers discounts on advance ticket sales, through this Saturday. AirVenture provides the usual packed schedule, with top airshow performers flying every afternoon plus Saturday night, and entertainment every evening. Programs for teachers and families aim to draw new enthusiasts into the fold. Up to 200 Piper Cubs are expected to fly in to the show, creating a "field of yellow" to celebrate the iconic airplane's 75th anniversary. And of course, everyone with a new product or upgrade or idea will be there to share it with the aviation world.

The show also features an expanded innovation center where new designs and technologies will be on display, more space for ultralights, and several events to honor veterans. Other events include a first-ever sale of artifacts from the attic of the EAA AirVenture Museum, and a sweepstakes that will allow winners a rare opportunity to fly aboard the Goodyear blimp. AVweb staffers will be covering the show for you with daily news reports, videos, podcasts, and photo galleries, so be sure to check for our updates whether you're on the field or at home. EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski spoke with AVweb's Mary Grady this week with the full preview of the show; click here for the podcast.

Podcast: Coming Up at AirVenture

File Size 7.6 MB / Running Time 8:20

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski, veteran of a quarter-century's worth of AirVenture extravaganzas, updates AVweb's Mary Grady with a look at what to expect from the 2012 edition, just a few weeks away.

Click here to listen. (7.6 MB, 8:20)

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Embraer To Build Jets In China

In Rio de Janeiro last week, political leaders from Brazil and China signed an agreement that will allow Embraer to start building business jets in China. The deal creates a partnership between Embraer and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to build Legacy 600 and 650 jets using a facility already in place in Harbin, China. The new operation is expected to produce about 20 jets a year for the Chinese market. The first Embraer jet to be built in China is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

Embraer negotiated with China for about two years to reach the deal. Originally, Embraer wanted to build regional jets at the Harbin facility, but their E190 would have competed against a Chinese-built aircraft. Embraer won't be without competitors in the country -- Cessna signed a deal with AVIC in March to build business jets in China.

Australia Relaxes Medical Requirements

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has announced liberalized flight medical standards for private and recreational pilots that include a 3,200-pound maximum weight for aircraft and allow pilots to register their medical fitness online. In a newsletter to Australian pilots, John McCormick, CASA's director of aviation safety, said the idea is to make it easier for pilots to maintain medicals without sacrificing safety. "Having robust medical standards is a key element of aviation safety and this initiative ensures safety standards remain high while making the system simpler," McCormick said. Pilots will still have to get regular medical assessments (every two year for those 65 or younger, every year after that) but they're based mostly on driver's license standards and can be done by their family doctor. Australia requires all drivers to self-declare medical fitness to maintain their licenses. After being signed off by the GP, the pilot registers his or her medical fitness online and keeps the printed copy with him or her while flying. Australia's new rules have some significant differences from those being considered by the FAA. By the way, the deadline for comments on the joint EAA/AOPA third-class medical exemption proposal is July 2. To find out how to comment, look here (PDF).

The doctor's office flight medical adds a few areas of specific concern for aviation safety including questions about cancer, heart failure, head injuries, epilepsy and musculoskeletal disorders. As with the U.S. proposal, pilots in the new category can fly with only one "informed and consenting passenger" and are limited to day VFR. However, where the U.S. proposal limits aircraft flown under the exemption to those with piston engines of 180 horsepower or less, Australia sets the limit at piston singles of 1,500 kilograms (3,200 pounds) maximum takeoff weight or less. This captures a much wider range of aircraft than the U.S. exemption, but it still misses popular high-performance aircraft like the Cirrus SR22 and Cessna Corvalis, which are a few hundred pounds heavier. There's a 10,000 ASL ceiling for pilots in this class and flying in controlled airspace is allowed.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

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Questions and Answers: Flight Training back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: The FAA Knowledge Test Under Review

Changes to the FAA knowledge test are in the wind, but on the AVweb Insider blog, contributing editor Mary Grady explains why we need a discussion that goes beyond the simple issue of whether or not to make the questions public.

Read more and join the conversation.

Question of the Week: Where Did You Get Your Pilot's License?

A while back, AVweb reader Marc Santacroce suggested a great poll question. "I can't find any recent survey ... that asked how pilots got their licenses," he wrote. With flight training on our brain, that's our questio to you this week. (Military pilots, you get the week off; for this poll, we're interested in folks who learned to fly as civilians.)

How did you train for your private pilot certificate?
(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.)

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

Survey: What's That LSA Costing You? 'Aviation Consumer' Wants to Know

If you're operating a light sport aircraft -- either a legacy or late-model new airplane, our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, would like to know what it costs.

Click on this link to take the survey and leave comments.

We're interested in all kinds of light sports, but we especially want to know what costs are like when the airplanes are in partnerships.

The results will appear in a future issue of Aviation Consumer. For subscription information, click here.

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

Video: 'Aviation Consumer' Takes the Show on the Road with Five Folding Bicycle Reviews

The July issue of our sister publication, Aviation Consumer, features a blow-by-blow comparison of some of the best folding bikes for pilots we could find. See them in action in these five video reviews by Consumer's Jeff Van West.

Video: ANA 767 Hard Landing Creases Fuselage

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

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 767-300 carrying 193 passengers was damaged during a hard landing at Tokyo Narita airport, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. The ANA jet touched down on Runway 16R. Airport weather reports show winds at 230 and 16 knots gusting to 29 at that time, suggesting a potential crosswind component of more than 27 knots. However that may have affected the pilots and aircraft, security camera footage shows the airliner came down first on the right main, then on the nosewheel alone, before porpoising into a second impact that appears to impart visible flex on the airliner's forward fuselage. No injuries were reported, but an early post-flight inspection clearly showed buckling and creases in the fuselage skin forward of the wing root. Japan's transportation safety board is investigating.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Laredo Aero Center (KLRD, Laredo, Texas)

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

Summer is here, local air shows are in full swing, and AVweb readers are logging some serious flying time. At least, that's the way it looks from the number of great FBOs we've heard about in the last seven days. It was tough choosing one nomination, but our latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Laredo Aero Center at Laredo International Airport (KLRD) in (you guessed it) Laredo, Texas.

Jimmy Harrison brought Aero Center to our attention with his praise:

The people who operate Aero Center are absolutely fabulous. This includes the line handlers, the refuelers and the ops desk personnel. I have stopped here several times and am always delighted with their excellent service and can-do attitude.

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!

Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Zane Jacobson of Lake Oswego, OR. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
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

Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Jeff Van West

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

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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