AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 18, Number 50a

December 10, 2012

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! FCC Speaks Out for Portable Electronics back to top 
 

FCC to FAA: Stop Banning Tablet Use in Airplanes

The head of the FCC has formally asked the FAA to allow greater use of tablet computers and e-readers in airline cabins, just as the latter agency is reviewing its rule on personal electronic devices for passenger use. In his letter to the FAA, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that "mobile devices are increasingly interwoven into our daily lives. ... [T]hey empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost U.S. competitiveness."

The Hill reported this week that the FCC considered rolling back rules prohibiting in-flight cellphone use in 2004, but later withdrew the initiative because it lacked sufficient data to prove whether in-flight use would interfere with how cellular technology hands off and routes calls. And even if the rule had be lifted, the FAA's FAR 91.21, the so-called personal electronic device rule, would still allow airlines and aircraft operators wide latitude in allowing or prohibiting electronic device usage in cabins. Research on PED interference with modern aircraft navigation and communication systems has been mixed at best. The FAA reports many anecdotal incidents involving interference, but no definitive data on interference has yet emerged. Most airlines and aircraft operators ban cellphone usage at any altitude, but allow use of computers, tablets and e-readers above 10,000 feet. Increasingly, airlines are requiring cellphones to be powered down, not just placed in airplane mode.

 
Is There Anything More Important than Protecting Your Family?
Be certain you have the right life insurance coverage. Get the information you need to find the right policy for your family's protection at the Pilot Insurance Center. Call PIC at (800) 380-8376 or visit PICLife.com.
 
New Lease on Life for ILFC? back to top 
 

China Bids For Airliner Leasing Firm

A Chinese consortium may be poised to take over what was the most important airliner leasing company in the world, but a leading analyst is wondering why. American International Group (AIG) says it is in talks with a group led by New China Trust Co. Ltd., New China Life Insurance Co. Ltd., P3 Investments Ltd. and China Aviation Industrial Fund to sell a 90-percent stake in International Lease Finance Corp., which leases aircraft to many of the world's airlines. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said ILFC, which was the undisputed dominant figure in the leasing business until a few years ago, has not kept up with the times.

Aboulafia said ILFC, while still the largest, has the oldest fleet of aircraft among leasing companies and he wondered if the Chinese suitors have the cash and the desire to restore ILFC to its former prominence, rather than just assuming the role of "a curator of an old jet museum." If the bid does have the necessary backing and makes the investment, it could mark a major shift in the way the airline business works, he said. AIG wants to dump the leasing business to help pay a $182 billion bailout from the U.S. government.

Podcast: China's Next Move?

File Size 5.2 MB / Running Time 5:40

Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

A Chinese consortium seems poised to take over a 90 percent stake in AIG's International Lease Finance Corp., one of the largest airliner leasing companies in the world. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke to Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia about that potential deal and what might be next for Hawker Beechcraft.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (5.2 MB, 5:40)

 
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Eye on the Market back to top 
 

Stratolaunch, SpaceX Part Ways

Stratolaunch Systems, which plans to launch satellites from an enormous airplane high in the atmosphere, has parted with its rocket subcontractor SpaceX, but Stratolaunch says it's still hoping to fly the airplane in 2016. Stratolaunch has hired Orbital Sciences Corporation to come up with a new design by sometime in the spring of 2013. The launch system, funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, was announced a year ago to mark what Allen said was "the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry." The carbon-fiber aircraft, designed by Burt Rutan, will have a 385-foot wing joining two fuselages and a carrier mechanism in the middle. The rocket booster was to have been an adaptation of SpaceX's pad-launch rocket but that turned out to be too much of an engineering stretch.

It turns out the rocket needed by Stratolaunch would require some significant design changes (including a fin/chine) to the SpaceX rocket currently in production and SpaceX doesn't want the diversion from its goal to enter the commercial space business as an orbital launch contractor. "Over the past few months, as our teams got further into the design of the new rocket, it was clear that it would be a significant departure from SpaceX's Falcon 9 manufacturing process and its overall business plan and goals," Stratolaunch said in a statement. "Building the Stratolaunch rocket would require SpaceX to significantly modify its processes, which both companies agreed would not be beneficial to the project." A few days after the announcement, SpaceX announced it had won two military launch contracts.

Hawker Beechcraft Reorganization Approved

A U.S. Bankruptcy court has approved Hawker Beechcraft's plan of reorganization to emerge from bankruptcy as a smaller stand-alone company without a jet line, carrying at least $525 million in new financing. The company plans to continue as Beechcraft Corp., unburdened of its Hawker 4000 and Premier jet lines. It will acquire its financing in the form of a term loan and a revolving line of credit, according to the Wichita Eagle. Some $400 million will be used to pay off credit acquired by the company when it entered bankruptcy. The rest will be used to fund the company's operations. The plan has the won the support of a majority of its debt holders. Creditors will conclude their voting process in January. The company has said its future plans could include up to four new offerings, but another court date is coming.

A court hearing scheduled for Jan. 31 will decide if the company is allowed to emerge from bankruptcy after creditor voting has concluded. If approved, Beechcraft Corp. may follow plans announced at NBAA in Orlando, where company officials said that new offerings could be coming from the Baron and Beechjet lines. For the immediate future, company representatives have stated they hope Beechcraft will focus on its profitable businesses, including its piston, turboprop, military, parts, repair, maintenance and refurbishment activities. It is not yet clear how many employees will be retained. Hawker Beechcraft originally entered bankruptcy to drop $2.5 billion in debt.

 
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Visit ForeFlight.com to learn more and upgrade.
 
A Day That Still Lives in Infamy back to top 
 

The Relative Cost Of An F-22 Fender Bender

An F-22 that had performed a flyover at a Pearl Harbor anniversary event, Friday, later scraped its tail on landing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, causing an estimated $1.8 million in damage to the jet. The landing followed a training exercise that followed the ceremony and was otherwise safe. No injuries were reported. The damage estimate accounts for little more than 1 percent of the fighter's $143 million per unit cost as estimated by the Air Force ... and even less of the jet's $412 million per unit cost as estimated by the Government Accountability Office.

Over 2,000 people attended the event at Pearl Harbor Friday, which recognized the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack there. Some 30 survivors were among those in attendance. More than 3,000 service members and civilians were killed in the Dec. 7, 1941, the attack that launched the U.S. into the second world war. The incident that damaged the Raptor jet took place roughly 90 minutes after its participation in the commemorative event.

Pearl Harbor Day Recovery: One Wildcat

An FM-2 Wildcat that rolled off the deck of a ship on Dec. 28, 1944, after suffering an engine failure during takeoff, was plucked from Waukegan Harbor on Lake Michigan in Illinois, Friday, reportedly thanks to a donation from 78-year-old pilot Charles Greenhill. The aircraft's pilot, William Edward Forbes, was rescued when the aircraft went into the water more than 60 years ago. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 85. Now, local enthusiasts hope to use the aircraft to encourage development of a museum at a former Naval Air Station museum in nearby Glenview, Ill. But before that, the aircraft will be headed to Greenhill's hangar in Kenosha, Wisc., if only temporarily.

The hangar is only expected to serve as a pit stop on the aircraft's journey. From there it will be moved to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla., for a restoration that could take half a decade. The WWII aircraft's physical retrieval actually began on Sunday, but crews decided to wait until Pearl Harbor Day to remove the plane form the water. The Wildcat has been identified as Bureau Number 57039, which had 1151 hours when it sank in about 200 feet of water. More than 17,000 pilots were trained to fly from carriers on the waters of Lake Michigan during World War II.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

Low Pass Led To Fatal Crash

The NTSB says a misjudged high-speed, low-altitude pass led to the crash of a Piper Malibu that killed the pilot and two passengers last year in Monroe, Mich. (PDF) The board said pilot Rick Howell, 58, of nearby LaSalle tried to raise his flight instructor on the radio to alert him that he was doing a high-speed pass before aiming the big single at the runway on March 29, 2011. The NTSB counted 37 propeller gouges in the runway in its investigation. The gear and flaps were retracted. The aircraft stayed airborne long enough to crash into a neighboring soccer field, narrowly missing a children's playground and tennis complex, where a high school team was practicing.

Also killed were Nate Brahier, 30, and Jeremy Tate, 40, both of Ohio. The three were returning from a business trip to Pennsylvania. The NTSB said it found nothing mechanically wrong with the airplane but it did find evidence of the use of unapproved cough and pain medications in the tissues of the pilot. Toxicology tests also found the prescription drug Nortriptyline in his system.

Canada May Cancel F-35 Deal

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office is denying an Ottawa Citizen report that the country has cancelled an order for 65 F-35 fighters. However, the prime minister' office, while calling the Citizen report "inaccurate on a number of fronts," did say the government is going to update the country on the process of replacing the Royal Canadian Air Force's 30-year-old fleet of first-generation CF-18 fighters. Unnamed sources at both news organizations suggest that semantics aside, the original plan to buy F-35s and only F-35s is dead and there will soon be a competitive bidding process for the fighter contract. Besides the F-35, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault's Rafale, Saab's Gripen, and the Eurofighter Typhoon are considered contenders for the deal, worth tens of billions of dollars. At stake for other participants in the multinational Joint Strike Fighter effort is the potential increased cost of their fighters if Canada does bow out. Escalating costs are behind Canada's softening position on the F-35.

The Canadian government has been under increasing pressure to review those costs and an independent audit of the F-35 program due out next week will reportedly show the lifetime cost of each aircraft, including initial cost, maintenance and spares, to be more than $450 million. Two years ago, the government was predicting it would be half that. Until recently the government has said it believed the only suitable new fighter for Canada was the F-35 because of its stealthiness, but it has been softening that position. Last week, the new Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Tom Lawson told a House of Commons committee that there were other stealthy aircraft available.

 
'The Aviators' Season 3 || The Biggest Aviation Show on the Planet - Now on PBS, 
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The award-winning hit TV series The Aviators is back for an all-new third season showcasing everything from the F-22 and DC-3 to LSA and balloons. We take you dogfighting in the Nevada desert, flying with the USAF Thunderbirds, and look on as Mötley Crue frontman Vince Neil learns to fly. Join our 10 million weekly US viewers and countless more worldwide.

Watch The Aviators on PBS, iTunes, Amazon, and Hulu.
 
Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Bin Laden Helo Crash Revisited

Resident blogger Paul Bertorelli has been reading books on the SEAL operation to take down Osama bin Laden and finds that they don't agree on why the helicopter inserting the teams crashed. Two books suggest it was settling with power, but one says it was a freak dual failure of the aircraft's electronic flight control system. We may never find out for sure, but for pilots, speculating is just what we do.

Read more and join the conversation on the AVweb Insider blog.

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

AVmail: December 10, 2012

Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Fly-By-Wire Concerns

Regarding the story about the fly-by-wire Diamond DA42: Although the developers of fly-by-wire systems have admirable goals, I am very concerned about the unintended consequences of such control systems. As a pilot, I would never relinquish control to a computer programmer. (I worked as computer programmer for seven years!)

It is simply not possible to think of every situation in order to program a computer control system to act appropriately all the time. Just think of the subtle nuances of glide control when aiming for a specific spot on a field when doing a forced landing. Then there are the effects of sensor failures as we have seen on some recent crashes.

With twin-engine aircraft, there is a place for some intelligence in the control system, such as control limitation to avoid loss of control when one engine is out, for example. However, within the allowed range of control movement, the pilot's inputs should be directly relayed to the control surfaces and not interpreted by a computer!

In any event, controlling the aircraft is one of the least demanding aspects of flying. It is getting increasingly challenging to maintain traffic separation in busy, uncontrolled air space.

Taken to its ultimate maturity, the goals of these fly-by-wire and auto take-off and land systems are basically the same as that of unpiloted vehicle developers: Build aircraft that can carry passengers with no pilot! I cringe at the thought of flying in a sky full of aircraft being controlled by computers and pilots with limited ability at the controls! If a person cannot be trained to fly the aircraft, they would also not have the ability to maintain situational awareness and navigate properly, or for that matter program a flight plan correctly.

The biggest challenge the developers of these systems need to solve first is how to do collision avoidance in a completely robust and safe way between UAVs and GA while not everybody in the sky has the same technology on board. Once they [have] solved that problem, I may be able to relax a little more about their efforts to automate the control of their aircraft.

Best Regards,

Dan Retief


Getting Simulators in the Game

Regarding the story about the NTSB's comments on GA safety: They don't address fuel costs, which are driving these numbers. Rising fuel costs mean a higher cost to fly either owned or rented aircraft, which results in less flying, and less flying means less proficiency. There is a very low-cost way to practice many of the skills needed to help pilots stay sharp.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is a very low-cost simulator that adds a wealth of value in educating pilots, including actual navaid and terrain realism, random system failures, and practice with instrument scans for flight in IMC. I encourage all my VFR and IFR student pilots to purchase a copy of MS Flight Sim 2004 off eBay for as low as $15 to practice approaches. Throw on a yoke for $120, and it is the cost of one hour in a rented plane. There are many other flight simulator programs available.

The FAA, however, calls these types of programs games and not simulators. The FAA needs to loosen up and endorse a lower-cost means of staying proficient and offer hourly credit for the time spent practicing with "training tools." The FAA basically classifies simulators by the instrumentation, controls, and motions offered. You don't need a full set of actual controls for pilots to build good aeronautical decision making (ADM).

Doug Hansen, CFII


Fuel Cost Breaking Point

$6.75 was the magic number for me. Someone recently surveyed me and asked me what was my personal breaking point for fuel prices, and I said around $10.

I knew life was getting more expensive every day, but when I filled up with $200 worth of fuel for one trip on top of the $530 fixed cost per month for my Archer (and I owned everything already!), I realized I can't do this anymore. My family can't afford it.

After much soul-searching, I sold the airplane yesterday and may have to leave aviation after 30 years. It wasn't just fuel; it was the whole proverbial iceberg that is sinking my dreams. The tip merely pointed it out.

Jim Schroeder


Flying Charitably All Year

Surely you know many of us fly charitably all year. (Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic for me.)

Your focus seems to be those motivated by holidays. I take holiday missions. Still, no survey statement fits us. Also, questions speak to groups who may sponsor flights, but individuals fly them. I suggest an answer like "I fly charitably all year long, especially around Christmas" for the survey next year. Think you'll get a larger response.

Dan DeDona


Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.

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: iPad Mini -- AVweb's Flight Trial

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

The iPad, and tablets in general, have gained wide acceptance among pilots. But if you find the iPad a tad too large for the cockpit, the new iPad Mini may address that complaint. It's 2/3 the size of the full iPad but otherwise has the same features and performance as an iPad 2. In this video, AVweb and Aviation Consumer wrung out the Mini for both cockpit and pre-flight use. Other than screen glare, we found it had few warts worth mentioning, and it just might become the perfect cockpit accessory.

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.

 
IFR Refresher
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Robert LaFleur Airport (KWVL, Waterville, ME)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to a location that, according to reader John Brier, has had a fresh infusion of inspiration recently — the city-run FBO at Robert LaFleur Airport (KWVL) in Waterville, Maine:

This airport was on the verge of being closed. The city of Waterville took over the operation and with a dedicated crew and turned it into a very pilot-friendly place. Fuel prices are some of the lowest in the [area].

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!

 
Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Approach
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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

Heard at Orlando Executive:

Tower:
"Ercoupe 1234, we have a blimp landing to the right of runway 7. Reduce speed."

Ercoupe:
"1234 reducing speed."

Tower:
"1234, make a half-'S' turn to the left."

Ercoupe:
"1234 making a half-assed turn to the left."


Robert C. Abbaticchio
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:

Publisher
Tom Bliss

Editorial Director, Aviation Publications
Paul Bertorelli

Editor-in-Chief
Russ Niles

Webmaster
Scott Simmons

Contributing Editors
Mary Grady
Glenn Pew

Contributors
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.