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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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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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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
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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.
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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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.
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.
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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'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.
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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.
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.)
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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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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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.
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.
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