AVwebFlash - Volume 19, Number 1b

January 3, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! China's Big Investment in GA back to top 

China To Subsidize GA 

Transportation authorities in China have pitched general aviation in that country as "the next driving force after the car industry" and the Chinese government will be providing targeted funding to jumpstart GA there. Ma Xin, deputy director of the National Air Traffic Management Committee Office in China, delivered the quote at the Zhuhai Air Show last month. And the Civil Aviation Administration and Ministry of Finance has now reportedly announced temporary measures to regulate the specific fund for China's general aviation development. According to ChinaDaily.com, the "long-awaited subsidy measure" will be applied to support general aviation operations, pilot training and infrastructure development.

According to Ma Xin, general aviation is recognized for its importance as an economic growth engine. It creates "a long industrial chain that can drive the development of various sectors from raw materials in the upstream," said Xin, and has "a much bigger role to play in China's economy." Changes to management of low-altitude airspace are currently being tested in designated areas and are expected to spread through the rest of the country as aviation reforms move ahead. China's cabinet listed general aviation as a strategic industry back in 2010, when it was included in a five-year development plan intended to cover the years 2011-2015. In July, China's State Council estimated that general aviation would increase by roughly 19 percent each year through 2020. The allotment of subsidized funding adds to the country's stated commitment to development of the sector.

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2012 Year in Review back to top 

AVweb's Top Ten For 2012

One of the cool things about being a Web-only publication is that we can tell at a glance what our readers considered the most popular of the thousands of items we served up in 2012. In recent years, that's been spectacular video, and this year is no exception in the top spot. Another video (and not what you might expect) grabbed second spot, but it was plain old text that captured the imaginations of our readers for the third most popular item on the site in 2012.

Our Top Ten Stories of 2012

  1. Video Editor Glenn Pew's original production of "William Rankin, The Man Who Rode the Thunder" captured the imaginations of thousands of AVweb readers and many more who saw the video posted on other sites that linked to it for their audience. In all, that video was seen 305,413 times during 2012.
  2. The flight of a 45-foot wingspan paper airplane by the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson captivated viewers.
  3. Dozens of Spitfires buried in Myanmar (Burma) were discovered by British farmer David Cundall.
  4. A hard landing by an ANA Boeing 767 at Tokyo's Narita Airport buckled the fuselage but didn't hurt anyone.
  5. Yet another search for evidence of Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan was launched.
  6. The FAA said it was considering more liberalized use of personal electronics by airline passengers.
  7. The FAA set an Oct. 1 deadline for electronic filing of pilot medicals.
  8. A midair collision between a Bonanza and a Robinson R22 helicopter ended happily with both pilots walking away.
  9. A podcast with audio from a close call on the runway at Chicago Midway Airport between a cleared-for-takeoff Learjet and a Southwest 737 cleared to cross the same runway showed just how close it was.
  10. NASA announced the schedule for the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery to the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport.

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State of the Industry back to top 

Boeing Regains No. 1 Title; More Checks For 737s

For the first time in a decade, Boeing is the number-one planemaker in the world, selling and delivering more airplanes than Airbus in 2012, according to the Seattle Times. The company delivered about 585 commercial jets over the year, its highest total ever. Orders also were up, including about 1,000 commitments to buy the new fuel-efficient narrow-body jet, the 737 Max, with first deliveries expected in 2017. It's not all good news for Boeing in the new year, however, as the FAA has ordered more inspections of the aging 737 fleet.

The FAA issued an airworthiness directive on Tuesday that requires additional repairs and repetitive inspections to detect and correct fatigue cracking of the fuselage skin. Such cracks "could cause the fuselage skin to fracture and fail, and result in rapid decompression of the airplane," the FAA said. The AD, which takes effect Feb. 6, affects about 109 airplanes, many of them operated by Southwest Airlines, and will cost operators about $5 million. An earlier AD for the fleet was prompted by a fracture in the fuselage of a 737 in July 2009. Another 737 suffered a fracture in flight in July 2011, but that was due to a different issue, investigators found.

Fiscal Deal A Boost For Biofuels

Incentives for biofuel development in the new "fiscal cliff" bill -- also known as the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" -- could help the industry to move forward in 2013, advocates say. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, provisions in the bill should lead to "a year of growth and milestones for the advanced ethanol industry." Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board, said the incentives in the bill will have "real economic impacts with companies expanding production and hiring new employees." Meanwhile, a project by two companies to produce a "100-percent drop-in alternative aviation fuel" for jet and diesel engines won an industry award as "Best New Fuel of 2012."

The Renewable Fuels Association said a partnership between ARA (Applied Research Associates) and Chevron Lummus Global has produced, for the first time, a renewable 100-percent drop-in aviation fuel. The fuel was used in the first 100-percent biofuel jet flight, which was conducted in Canada late last year. The continuing flight testing is a "key step towards certification," said the RFA. The companies' patented process uses water as a catalyst to convert plant oils into products that are "very similar to petroleum crude oil," according to a news release from ARA and Chevron. Further processing creates renewable fuels that are "100 percent replacements for petroleum-based jet and diesel fuel" that meet all specifications for ASTM and military quality, the companies said.

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News Briefs back to top 

Unlicensed Teen Flying Twin That Crashed: Report

An unlicensed 17-year-old was reportedly at the controls of what the the Associated Press is reporting was a Piper PA30 Twin Comanche that crashed Tuesday evening in Alabama killing him and his two teenaged passengers. AP is also reporting that Sherrie Smith, the mother of Jordan Smith, who was flying the twin, said he had a key to the plane, the access code to the airport gate and that the owner of the aircraft, who was not identified, had let him fly the Comanche many times previously. She also told AP that her son was "one test" short of earning a private license.

Smith took off from Walker County Airport in Jasper, northwest of Birmingham, about 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. It was overcast with a low ceiling AP quoted the unidentified airport manager as saying. The aircraft crashed less than a mile away in a wooded area. Also killed were Brandon Tyler Ary, 19, and Jordan Seth Montgovery, 17.

Virgin Galactic Space Launch Expected This Year

Virgin Galactic is on track to send a test flight into space this year, although tourist flights are not expected to start until 2014, according to recent news reports. An article in the January issue of IEEE Spectrum says Richard Branson expects to be aboard a flight into space by the end of this year. And BBC News, in a recent interview with pilot David Mackay, said Virgin's tourist flights are on track to start next year. The flights will reach higher than 350,000 feet. "The view will be fantastic," Mackay said. "And of course you'll be able to experience weightlessness." Virgin Galactic said in December that SpaceShipTwo completed its first glide while configured for powered flight.

It was the 23rd test flight for the ship in glide mode, and there are at least two more to go before its first powered test flight, the company said. "This was a significant flight as it was the first with rocket motor components installed, including tanks," Virgin Galactic said. "It was also the first flight with thermal protection applied to the spaceship's leading edges." More than 500 customers have already signed up for a seat, at about $200,000 each. AVweb readers apparently are eager to join them …. in a poll in July, 64 percent of those who responded said that if money was not an obstacle, they were ready to sign up immediately to go into space.

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Esoteric Skills back to top 

'Ultimate' Paper Airplane From 'Top Gear'

click for larger version — and directions to make your own

James May, known as Captain Slow on the popular Top Gear BBC program, recently shared his design for an "ultimate" paper airplane, complete with winglets and elevons, created from a sheet of standard A4 letter-size paper. "It's a sort of cross between a Vulcan bomber and a Fairey Delta, and if you do it properly, it's a good flyer," May told the RadioTimes. May, who flies his own sport aircraft, is also working on a project to build a balsa-wood glider model and fly it across the English Channel -- about 22 miles. Click through for May's illustrated instructions for the "ultimate" flying piece of paper.

Click on the image at right for a larger version of May's instructions. Earlier this year, the video of a flight of a giant paper airplane with a 45-foot-wingspan became one of AVweb's most-clicked-on stories. In February, a new world record was set with an indoor flight of more than 200 feet for a paper airplane design.

GA Pilot Thwarts Burglar From Air (Yes, Again)

Pilot David Zehntner and his wife ended a Sunday flight in their Cessna 182 with a low pass of their home, which is located below the approach path to his local airport in LaBelle, Fla., but this time the view included a burglar. At about 800 feet inbound for landing, the couple spotted what appeared to be a man testing the windows and doors at their house. Zehntner told local news agencies that he circled, descending to about 300 feet. They watched as the man attached to his own truck the Zehntners' red tow trailer, looked up at the plane, and drove off. The event is similar to one that AVweb reported in August of 2011, which ended in an arrest. And the Zehntners took action to help ensure that their episode ended the same way.

In the 2011 event, a man flying as a passenger in a friend's Cessna 172 requested a flyby of his home and when the pair arrived overhead they spotted men taking items from the house. In that case, the two successfully contacted authorities on the ground and directed them from the air until the suspects were apprehended by police on the ground. In the Zehntners' case, the couple was unable to contact anyone by radio at their local airport and attempts made by cellphone were thwarted by noise. The couple elected to stop trying and instead followed their stolen trailer as the thief towed it for several miles. "At one point, he was stopped at a red light right in front of the Henry County police station," Zehntner told ABC news. When they saw the thief turn onto local Highway 80, Zehntner elected to land back at his airport. Once on the ground, he informed authorities. Forty minutes later, police successfully found, stopped and arrested the driver who was towing the Zehntners' trailer. Gary Robert Haines, 59, of Virginia, was arrested and charged with grand theft. Speaking about the event, Zehntner said, "Not sure it's something I'd want to do every day, but the outcome is pleasing. It was worth it."

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Huerta Confirmed To FAA Post

Amidst the tension of the economic discussions in Washington on New Year's Day, the Senate was busy confirming the nominations of political appointees and Michael Huerta was one of them. Huerta, who has held the post of acting administrator since former Administrator Randy Babbitt stepped down more than a year ago, was among dozens of nominations approved as part of the session ending package. Huerta will be playing catch-up on a number of fronts as the agency deals with a major modernization push in the face of tighter budgets and a rough economy. In a podcast interview at AirVenture 2012, a cordial but non-committal Huerta admitted as much.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association reacted positively to the news. "We look forward to continuing our work with him on such critical issues as improving certification processes and practices globally, advancing NextGen ... " GAMA said in a news release. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association cheered the news. “We thank the Senate for working to confirm Mr. Huerta. He has demonstrated strong leadership and sharp focus in collaborating with air traffic controllers and all aviation safety professionals to improve the safety of U.S. aviation,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. Huerta was widely endorsed for the job when he was nominated last spring but politics got in the way. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., vigorously fought the appointment to delay it until after the November election to allow Republican candidate Mitt Romney a chance to nominate his own choice if he had won. DeMint resigned his Senate seat after the election and without his opposition the appointment passed.

Stranded U.S. Bizjet Leaves Iran

An American-registered Dassault Falcon 900 took off from an Iranian airport Monday about three weeks after it had made an emergency landing. According to The Associated Press the aircraft was on its way to Rotterdam from Abu Dhabi in early December when a technical fault forced a diversion to Ahvaz in southwestern Iran. There was a single passenger and two crew members on board the aircraft at the time and they left the country immediately after landing.

The aircraft was left behind and repaired by a crew from Abu Dhabi. It was not clear why the diversion wasn't reported when it happened, nor were the identities of those on board or the aircraft's owner released. The aircraft left just as Iranian officials were preparing to close the Ahvaz Airport. The airport sits on a rich oil field and is being moved to allow drilling on the site.

China Testing C-17 Lookalike

China's aviation technology gap may have closed somewhat in recent days with announcements of some breakthroughs that may make it less dependent on the West for stuff it needs to advance its aerospace industry. Just after Christmas, photos were "leaked" of what appears to be the country's most ambitious aircraft to date, the Y-20 transport. The photos, purported to be of a test aircraft undergoing taxi tests, outwardly show a clone of Boeing's C-17 Globemaster, although the engine openings on the Chinese version are considerably smaller than the high-bypass turbofans on the C-17. If the performance of the Y-20 comes anywhere close to that of the C-17, China will soon have a long-range, heavy-lift capacity it has so far lacked in home-grown aircraft, but skeptics abound. Nevertheless, China does appear to be moving forward with development of some key technologies needed to build truly modern aircraft.

Taiwanese newspaper Want China Times quotes a Chinese publication as saying a research unit of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has made a breakthrough in mass producing the high-temperature alloys needed for high-performance jet engines. That could mean the country could start producing its own state-of-the-art jets within five years. It now uses Russian engines to power its latest fighters, the J-20 and J-31.

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

Question of the Week: Where Should the New Administrator Start?

Newly confirmed FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has a desk full of priorities.

Which one should he tackle first?
(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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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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Opinion & Commentary back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: A Fatal Accident -- Would You Survive?

In the U.S. there are, on average, about five fatal aircraft accidents a week. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli examines one that got under his skin and poses this very natural question: Could I have avoided this?

Take your turn at the discussion.

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

Video: Meet Mid-Continent's SAM

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

As much as we love them, iron gyros are on their way to the scrap heap of history. They're even losing their value as backup instruments to glass panels now that glass itself has become more reliable and affordable enough to replace even analog backup devices. In this new video from AVweb, Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano examines a new product from Mid-Continent Instruments and Avonics called the SAM. It fits into a small space on the panel and can be backed up with its own lithium-ion battery. Installation considerations are mimimal, but here's a close look at how the instrument looks and performs.

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: L-3's Trilogy Backup Gyro

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

Glass panels have become standard in new aircraft, and now that more legacy airplanes are retrofitted with these systems, there's a growing market for backup gyros. That market has clearly stated a preference: Backup glass units are making inroads. In this AVweb video, Larry Anglisano of Aviation Consumer and Kirk Fryar of Sarasota Avionics give us a tour of the L-3 Trilogy.

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.

Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Wright Brothers Aviation (KMHE, Mitchell, South Dakota)

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

AVweb's latest "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Wright Brothers Aviation at Mitchell Municipal Airport (KMHE) in Mitchell, South Dakota.

A few weeks back, AVweb reader Dr. Steve P. Schoettle knocked us out with his story of WBA's outstanding devotion to service:

Service above and beyond the call of duty! On October 27, after a successful week of pheasant hunting in South Dakota, I prepared to depart back home to Arkansas in my Cherokee Six. To my dismay, N720JB would not crank! Quickly, the line personnel came to my assistance with battery boosts, etc. After no success, Roger the mechanic stepped in. Even on his weekend off, he spent the next six hours diagnosing my failed starter and trying to get it working. After exhausting all possibilities, and unable to find a new starter in the area on a Saturday, he contacted a local plane owner, who graciously "loaned" me the starter from his plane! Roger took that starter and placed it on my plane, even coming in early Sunday morning to finish up and get me in the air The starter has since been replaced and the "borrowed" one returned to the other plane.

Terri and Todd have always run a wonderfully friendly and efficient FBO, but this was truly amazing service. My hat is off to the entire staff!

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!

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.

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