AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 44a

October 29, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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Hurricane Sandy to the North, NBAA to the South back to top 

Sandy Cancels Thousands Of Flights, Causes NBAA Headaches

Add some political winds to the perfect storm and it tallies up to a little extra homework for those trying to fly to NBAA's national convention in Orlando Sunday and Monday. President Barack Obama has a campaign event in Orlando on Monday, the day before the convention, and his original travel plans would have resulted in a relatively short disruption as he flew in and out of MCO on Air Force One. But with Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc on the Eastern Seabord, Obama moved his departure to Orlando to Sunday evening and he will stay through early Monday afternoon, bringing a TFR with him. Many exhibitors fly in on Sunday and many attendees arrive on Monday so they need to be aware of the latest NOTAM outlining procedures at Orlando-area airports. The FAA information is subject to change (the NOTAM was revised four times by late Sunday) so pilots are advised to ensure they have the latest information before heading to Florida.

As of early Monday morning, the TFR was in effect from 7:15 p.m. Sunday to 2:45 p.m. Monday but there was word the President planned to cut his visit short and leave by about 12:30 p.m. The TFR was expected to be adjusted accordingly. All traffic is being stopped at MCO for an hour surrounding the arrival and departure times. There are no other restrictions on any traffic using MCO. At Orlando Executive (ORL), pre-clearance gateways are being established at Jacksonville (JAX) and Daytona Beach (DAB) for traffic planning to arrive during the TFR. There are no restrictions before and after the TFR so show FBO Showalter Flying Service will have extra staff to handle the anticipated increase in traffic. Neither Kissimmee (ISM) nor Sanford (SFB) is affected by the TFR. It should be noted the TFR has been revised twice and may undergo more changes so pilots should be vigilant about checking.

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Mo' Respect for Mogas? back to top 

Congressman Wants Expanded Mogas Availability

A California congressman is urging the FAA to encourage wider availability of unleaded aviation fuel at airports to reduce the use of 100LL. In a (PDF) letter to Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., says airplanes that can use unleaded fuel should use unleaded fuel until an unleaded replacement for avgas is available. He suggests the FAA become directly involved in helping airports ensure the availability of high-octane, ethanol-free unleaded gas. "It is essential for the FAA to develop and implement, in the near term, measures to facilitate the use of currently available unleaded fuel in general aviation," he wrote.

Waxman quotes a report by the Aviation Fuel Club, an organization created with the goal of lowering the cost of aviation fuel and fuel equipment, that says 80 percent of piston aircraft can be STC'd to run on unleaded ethanol-free fuel. What he doesn't mention is that by some estimates the 20 percent of aircraft that need 100-octane fuel burn 80 percent of the avgas. He also says the timeline for the 100-octane unleaded replacement fuel is too long.

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Fatal GA Helicopter Crashes Prompt Call For Action

"Treacherous missions are not at the root of a stubbornly persistent helicopter accident rate and helicopter fatalities," the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) said Wednesday, after four flights in eight days resulted in seven fatalities.  Each of the four accident flights from Oct. 10 to Oct. 17 appear to have initiated as normal general aviation/private flights, according to IHST, "but each ended with fatal results." IHST is made up of industry representatives and the FAA. It is calling for greater vigilance from pilots flying even "ordinary, mundane flights," but the organization also has a larger agenda in mind.

IHST has the goal of reducing the civil helicopter accident rate by 80 percent before 2016. The four fatal crashes cited by the group include a golf outing in Pennsylvania; "an evening flight" near Fredericksburg, Texas; a wire strike near Crowley, La.; and a crash after an early morning takeoff in Bucks County, Penn. IHST notes it will wait for full investigations before assuming probable cause, but said the accidents "reflect a need for the private helicopter pilot and helicopter community to take a critical look at its risk mitigation efforts and safety practices." Each flight, no matter how mundane, includes "serious and critical safety factors," said IHST, "that will either prevent or result in an accident." What we are learning, according to the group, is that "many pilots are not evaluating the risk when they feel it is a standard, low-risk flight." And that mindset, says IHST, can have tragic consequences.

ASTB Gets Earful on Norfolk Islanding Ditching

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau got a grilling before the Australian Senate this week over its investigatory work into the 2009 ditching of a Westwind medical flight off Norfolk Island. The bureau and Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority were castigated by witnesses for taking too long to complete the report (more than 1000 days), with one witness terming the investigation flawed and incompetent. According to a web report by The Australian,, the Senate investigation was initiated following a report by ABC Four Corners that revealed some 57 regulatory breaches, deficiencies and oversights of the flight's operator, Pel Air, that CASA was aware of but did not address. The investigations also revealed that the ATSB made few if any safety recommendations as a result of the accident.

The Westwind ditched in November 2009 after completing a long flight from Samoa with six aboard, including a stable patient who was being flown to Melbourne for treatment. The captain of the flight, Dominic James, departed with legally sufficient fuel into a forecast of good VFR. En route, the weather soured and the Westwind was forced to ditch after three approach attempts. All six occupants survived. Under questioning during the hearing, according to The Australian, ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan admitted the bureau could have done better work in the Pel Air probe. He conceded that it took too long to complete the report, blaming a backlog of investigations. Other witnesses were less generous.

Aviation consultant Byran Aherne told the panel the ATSB's report was factually incorrect and contained flawed analysis of the flight. The Australian quoted Aherne as saying the ATSB's intentional omission of critical facts would substantially change the report's findings. For his part, Dominic James previously told AVweb that he accepts full responsibility for the incident but in seeking the Senate hearing he said the ATSB failed to provide a balanced view of why the accident occurred and glossed over shortcomings in Pel Air's operating rules that were factors in the accident. He said CASA knew of these shortcomings but declined to enforce against Pel Air and that the ATSB failed to illuminate these issues in its report.

In response, ATSB's Dolan said the bureau believed that Pel Air was in compliance with both its own ops specs and CASA regulations, which evidently made it legal for the flight to be made with minimum fuel reserves with a favorable weather forecast. CASA's John McCormick rejected James' complaint that he was unfairly treated by CASA during the investigation. James told us that when he challenged the investigators' findings on fuel calculations, they refused to explain how the calculations were derived. Further, the record revealed that James was given incorrect weather information en route, which was later corrected in a radio transmission that was too garbled to read. Sticking to his script, McCormick said James "may not have had the necessary aeronautical skill to take on the appropriate command judgments."

For additional information on the crash and James, see this post on the AVweb Insider blog.

NTSB Wants Changes After Gulfstream Crash

The NTSB is seeking response within 90 days to ten new safety recommendations (five for the FAA, three for the Flight Test Safety Committee, and two for Gulfstream) born from the April 2, 2011, fatal crash of an experimental Gulfstream GVI (G650). The test aircraft went down near Roswell, N.M., during the final stages of certification flight testing, killing all four aboard. The NTSB's findings and recommendations were first released on Oct. 10, along with an associated NTSB press release that was critical of Gulfstream. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman called the crash "as much an absence of leadership as it was of lift." The NTSB is now seeking, within 90 days, responses from the affected entities that detail actions taken to implement the recommendations.

The NTSB recommends that the Flight Test Safety Committee develop, with the FAA, flight test operating guidance for manufacturers and safety program guidelines. It also recommends that the Committee notify and coordinate flight tests with airport rescue personnel. The NTSB specifically calls on Gulfstream to commission a safety audit performed by an independent panel prior to the start of its next "major certification flight test program," with special attention to "areas of weakness" identified by the NTSB. It also asks that the company provide information about "lessons learned from the implementation of its flight test safety management system to interested manufacturers" and other "appropriate" parties. The five recommendations directed at the FAA include its participation in the other recommendations, as appropriate, and also to advise manufacturers to consider the possibility that lift coefficients in ground effect can be lower than those in free air. More details are available online through the NTSB's safety recommendations page here.

Avanti Flies Two Legs Missing Control Surface

On July 28, a Piaggio Avanti operated by Avantair flew two legs (one with passengers) without a left elevator, and now the company has grounded its entire fleet as it works with the FAA through a safety review. Avantair is based out of St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, Florida, and operates almost 60 Piaggio Avanti turboprop pusher aircraft in fractional ownership programs. According to the NTSB, the incident aircraft departed Camarillo Airport in California, travelled to San Diego, where it picked up two passengers, and then flew to Henderson Executive Airport in Nevada. The missing elevator was discovered by airport personnel at Camarillo, three days later. The pilots did report some peculiarities.

According to the NTSB, after the crew landed the plane in Nevada they had a look at the tail and discovered that the left elevator was missing. The Avanti has three lifting surfaces: the main wing, a forward canard and a lifting stabilizer mounted atop the vertical fin at the rear of the aircraft. The crew reported to the NTSB they had some control issues, including the need to apply more-than-normal back pressure during landing in Nevada, but said there didn't appear to be anything unusual about the San Diego leg. Avantair has hired former FAA official Nick Sabatini to oversee the operator's safety inspections and a review of its maintenance records. Some workers at the company have been furloughed while the safety review is ongoing. Avantair has contacted its customers about the temporary shutdown of operations.

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Sun 'n Fun 'n Politics back to top 

Ryan Rally Invitation 'Not An Endorsement': Sun 'n Fun

Click for the body of the e-mail (PDF)

A Republican Party rally featuring vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan at the Sun 'n Fun facilities on Monday is not an endorsement for the GOP, according to Sun 'n Fun. Director of Communications Sandy Bridges said the "Victory Rally," which is expected to draw 2,000 people to Hangar A, one of the commercial exhibit hangars at Lakeland Linder Airport, is a private event. "We're not hosting this. They (the Republican Party) rented it." Bridges said Sun 'n Fun rents facilities to a wide variety of groups to raise money and create awareness of the various non-fly-in activities at the airport. "If President Obama had asked to rent it we would have rented it to him." However, SNF is now clarifying an e-mail it sent to its distribution list inviting everyone on the list to attend the rally.

"SNF sends emails out about year-round events that may interest the public if the events are not private. The notice with the flyer was sent to capitalize on the RNC Rally visibility on the grounds," Bridges said "Anything to bring people on our campus ... to talk about our kids programs." She said the rally is expected to draw local residents who don't know about the year-round activities of Sun 'n Fun. The e-mail invitation, which did not specify the event was being hosted and sponsored by the Republicans, raised some eyebrows in the aviation community and Sun 'n Fun will clarify its intent with a follow-up e-mail.

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Boom! Baumgartner Breaks Another Record (Maybe) back to top 

Baumgartner's Boom Heard?

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Experts analyzing the timing and signature of a sound captured along with video footage shot from the ground during Felix Baumgartner's record-setting Oct. 14 freefall from 128,000 feet believe it is a sonic boom, Red Bull said Friday. "The wave form of the sonic boom has been isolated and is consistent with existing 'sonic boom characteristics' data," the company said. Four different groups of observers that were present in different areas local to the jump heard the sound as Baumgartner accelerated beyond 833 mph in supersonic freefall, according to Red Bull. "Everyone all at once said, 'did you just hear that?' We knew exactly what it was." The team is analyzing data in hopes of removing all doubt.

The team is now working closely with sound experts who have isolated the double boom and are applying algorithms used by NASA to determine the exact moment Baumgartner, himself, went supersonic. GPS data and other telemetry information from Baumgartner's chest pack are being used to help verify speeds and the timing of the sound.

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What Part 145 Revisions Could Mean for Repair Stations back to top 

AEA Sounds Alarm On Part 145 Revisions

The Aircraft Electronics Association is warning FAA-certified repair stations that they may be blindsided by a major revision of Part 145. In a podcast interview with AVweb, AEA spokesman Ric Peri said there seems to be widespread belief that the proposed rule (PDF) affects only repair stations that work on Part 121 air carrier aircraft. In fact, the rule applies to all Part 145 repair stations and would impose some major changes and expenses on the more than 4,000 shops it covers. "This proposal applies to all repair stations regardless of its customer bases," Peri said. AEA staff will man a booth at NBAA in Orlando starting Tuesday to try to correct the apparent misconception that is so prevalent that some FAA inspectors also have the wrong impression of the rule's breadth. Public comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) close Nov. 19.

AEA has some major beefs with the proposed rule itself. AEA President Paula Derks said the revisions virtually eliminate the avionics trade and will allow airframe mechanics to work on and sign off on radio and instrument installations and repairs. "At a time when avionics and electronic systems are interfaced with every mechanical system on the aircraft, the FAA proposes to remove radio and instrument ratings and allow airframe-rated repair stations to work on electronics without adequate oversight," she said. The rule also requires repair stations to rewrite their repair station manuals and gives a 24-month window for companies to be recertified under the new regime, although the FAA hasn't said how it expects to review and inspect 4,000 shops in that time, given the already critical shortage of FAA certification staff. "With the current lack of FAA workforce and sequestration initiatives, how will the agency approve and reissue certifications to 4,000 repair stations in a 24-month period?" Derks said. "Without the FAA's ability to service an application in a timely manner, businesses will close."

Podcast: Call to Action for Repair Stations

File Size 6.9 MB / Running Time 7:30

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The Aircraft Electronics Association says some repair stations may be unaware of sweeping changes proposed by the FAA that will affect them. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with AEA's Ric Peri about what the proposed rulemaking will mean to all shops regardless of the aircraft they work on.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (6.9 MB, 7:30)

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Saved by an iPad

So let's get this straight: The airlines stuff us to turn off cellphone and tablet computers, yet the pilots up in the pointy end are using them as plate readers? That's not all. We know of at least two incidents in which iPads have bailed out crews after complete avionics failures in modern jets. Paul Bertorelli digs into the contradictions on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

Video: Redbird's Unique Sim-Based Flight Training

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

Last week, we covered Redbird's industry training conference and learned more about the company's unique approach to simulator-centric flight training, including primary and instrument. In this new video, Redbird's Roger Sharp tells AVweb what the company has learned in about a year of intensive research and experimentation in their sophisticated sim lab.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Coulter Field (KCFD, Bryan, Texas)

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

Makings lemons out of lemonade is the sign of a great FBO, and this week, reader David Townsend tells us how the FBO at Coulter Field (KCFD) in Bryan, Texas took the sting out of an unplanned detour a couple of weeks ago:

On October 19, I was en route to pick up my son from Texas A&M University when a bomb threat (a hoax) forced the evacuation of that campus, including closure of the on-campus airport. Coulter Field is ten miles away, so everyone inbound that afternoon, including many arriving for the football game the next day, diverted to Coulter. I've been to Coulter before, and it has a fine runway with excellent approaches, a generous ramp, and a clean, well-equipped FBO. This day, the staff really rose to the occasion. It was SRO in the lounge. Everyone needed information, transportation, and a cookie. We all got what we needed with a smile, even the LSU fans.

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

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.

The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

Overheard during a very, very rough ride out of Newark last week:

"Airliner 123, how is your ride?"

Airliner 123:
"The rides are crap."

[momentary pause]

Airliner 123:
"I'm sorry. That was unprofessional of me. The rides are unsatisfactory."

"Your first description was acceptable."

Rob Nabieszko
via e-mail

Heard Anything Funny on the Radio?

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.

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

Ad Coordinator
Karen Lund

Avionics Editor
Larry Anglisano

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.