AVwebFlash - Volume 19, Number 7a

February 11, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! Man and Machine back to top 
 

Drone Use List Grows

In response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FAA has released an updated list of public agencies that have applied for permission from the FAA to operate unmanned aerial systems (UAS). There are now at least 81 agencies that want to fly drones. Most are universities or other research-oriented institutions, and law-enforcement agencies make up the next largest group. Under current FAA rules, drones of all sizes can only be legally operated for non-hobby use through special authorization by the FAA. The list does not indicate which applications have been approved or rejected. The agency was mandated by Congress last year to start allowing more general use of small drones but the FAA said earlier this year it needs more time to figure out how to do that safely. Meanwhile, at least nine states are considering legislation to restrict drone use, one city has banned them entirely for at least two years, and industry groups, from the film industry to agriculture, are stamping their feet with impatience. Trying to reconcile the various factors and factions is the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and Vice President Gretchen West told AVweb in a podcast interview that education is key to smoothing the process.

West said that thanks to the coincidental increased public awareness of civilian drones due to the congressional mandate and high-profile controversies like the one over the authorization of assassinations by drones, the perception of civilian drone use is skewed. "Most of the systems we're talking about weigh less than 25 pounds," she said. Those used for law enforcement have limited range and endurance that make them suitable only for short-term operations like tracking suspects or search and rescue and not the kind of persistent surveillance that seems to worry many opponents of the technology. She said it's understandable that the FAA and many other countries are wrestling with regulating drones because the technology is relatively new and it's very powerful.

Podcast: Drones Under Fire

File Size 8.4 MB / Running Time 9:11

Bose® A20™ Aviation Headset

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

Unmanned aerial systems are getting a lot of attention, and public perception is often far from reality about the remotely piloted aircraft. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Gretchen West, VP of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) about the issues, the opportunities, and the uphill battle to explain the technology to governments, the aviation community, and the public.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (8.4 MB, 9:11)

 
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Nemo: Aviation's Snow Day back to top 
 

Storm Caused 6,600 Flight Cancellations

Airports throughout the Northeast were back in operation Sunday and normal schedules were expected at most by Monday in the wake of a big snowstorm that crippled the area over the weekend. In all, more than 6,600 flights were cancelled. New rules that punish airlines with fines for leaving passengers waiting too long in closed aircraft mean that many airlines now act preemptively. United Airlines canceled at least 900 flights ahead of the storm. Delta cancelled at least 740 flights and JetBlue, which operates mainly out of JFK and Boston's Logan Airport, canceled nearly 650 flights, even while New York's airports remained open Friday.

In total at least 3,000 flights scheduled for Friday were canceled, according to multiple sources. Airlines Friday were also canceling flights for Saturday, adding another 1100 cancelations to the total before Saturday even began. By late Friday, airports in New York were still open, but virtually no flights were flying in or out of the area. The cancelations in many cases rippled through airline fleets, causing more delays and cancelations in areas across the country otherwise unaffected by the Northeast's weather event.

 
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Probable Cause in Dreamliner Fire back to top 
 

Battery Short Circuit Led To 787 Fire: NTSB

The NTSB says a short circuit in one of eight cells in the APU battery of a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 led to the fire in the aircraft at Boston Logan Airport Jan. 7. At a news conference on Thursday, NTSB Chairman Debra Hersman said evidence from the flight data recorder and damage to the battery itself indicates the battery and not the aircraft systems were at fault. "That cell showed multiple signs of short circuiting, leading to a thermal runaway condition, which then cascaded to other cells," said an NTSB news release. "Charred battery components indicated that the temperature inside the battery case exceeded 500 degrees Fahrenheit." That was a factor. While the finding shines most of the spotlight on battery manufacturer Yuasa, the NTSB does not leave the FAA and Boeing off the hook.

Hersman said the high level of safety enjoyed by the airline industry has come by building layers of redundant defenses against disaster. "Our task now is to see if enough – and appropriate – layers of defense and adequate checks were built into the design, certification and manufacturing of this battery." But she said Boeing's estimate (accepted by the FAA) that a battery failure leading to the release of smoke into the aircraft would occur once in 10 million flight hours was obviously incorrect since there were two such events (including the in-flight battery fire aboard an ANA 787 two weeks after the JAL incident) in the first 100,000 hours. "The failure rate was higher than predicted as part of the certification process and the possibility that a short circuit in a single cell could propagate to adjacent cells and result in smoke and fire must be reconsidered," she said. The FAA allowed Boeing to ferry a 787 to its manufacturing facility in Everett on Thursday but only after the crew extensively inspected the batteries. It's still not clear when the Dreamliner will be returned to regular service.

 
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Making Airbus Feel at Home in Dubai back to top 
 

Dubai Opens A380 Terminal

Dubai International Airport has opened the first-ever concourse designated for use by A380 aircraft. The concourse, airport officials say, is the first "purpose-built" facility for the big plane. Called Concourse A, the terminal has 20 gates and is designed to accommodate the passenger mix as much as the aircraft itself. The 528,000-square-meter facility is part of a $7.8 billion upgrade of Dubai International, which its operators says will become the world's busiest airport by 2015.

There are 11 floors in the building and one is dedicated to the first- and business-class lounges for passengers booked in those seats. It's a standalone facility connected to the main terminal by underground train. Although it will be used by dozens of A380 operators, it's expected Dubai's own Emirates Airlines will get the most use out of it. Emirates will be the largest A380 operator in the world when it finishes taking delivery of all of its 90 aircraft. It's already flying 31 A380s.

 
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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Eclipse Hits the Road

With new production getting underway soon in Poland, Eclipse is finally pulling together the variables to make an airplane that ought to sell. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli explains why the time may be right for a global personal jet.

Read more and join the conversation.

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

AVmail: February 11, 2013

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: Depreciated Income

Regarding the reaction to the White House's comments on depreciation: I believe the comment from the administration is about accelerated depreciation and not straight-line depreciation.

While GAMA and others cry foul, one of the largest owners of jets, NetJets' Warren Buffett, complains he's not paying enough tax — yet his company will participate to lower their tax liability with accelerated depreciation, thus his tax rate is lowered.

Being in the high-tax-rate group but not high enough to afford the fat cat travel modes, I pay for their benefits because of their lobbyists.

Additionally, many of their products are not built in the U.S. and really benefit Canada or Brazil, so why should the U.S. general taxpayer subsidize corporate fat cats like Buffett of Jeff Imelt at GE? Let them join the regular tax-paying public and enjoy the jocularity of the TSA while traveling.

I believe in flat taxes so there are no politics in collections. We all pay and make our decision on sound personal economic terms, not political DC intrigue.

If Buffett believes he's not paying enough taxes, the U.S. Treasury does accept donations. Why not drop a check off on them? In my youth, we had a saying: "Put up or shut up."

Accelerated depreciation to keep the fat cats flying cheaper is a non-starter for me and for most of the flying public.

Patrick Scott


Who Pays Again?

Regarding the issue of paying the FAA for electronic charts: [The agency] should be compensated for the data, but I suspect that's not what's happening. What the FAA laments is they no longer get paid to print paper charts, because no one wants them anymore.

For aviation data, the government should be able to recover the actual cost, not the lost revenues from printing paper charts.

Steve Waechter

Letter writer John Sullivan feels that getting something for nothing is inappropriate. This must represent a recent sea change of public opinion. For the last 45 years, at least 50 percent of my tax dollars have paid someone for nothing.

Charles Thomason

The FAA is paid by you, the taxpayer, to develop and maintain the aviation infrastructure. To be asked to pay for it again is robbery. It's already paid for and belongs to the taxpayer!

Chris Strube


Shot Down

Regarding the story about shooting at airplanes: This is not a new phenomenon.

Many regard Steve Wittman (namesake of the Oshkosh airport and inventor of the spring steel "Wittman" landing gear) as the greatest pylon racer of all time. I remember him telling the story of returning from Florida to Wisconsin in his race plane. Suddenly the engine lost power. He skillfully found a field and landed, to find bullet holes through his aircraft.

Apparently a moonshiner had mistaken him for a federal agent and had fired on him. The next day the headlines ran, "Miami Air Race Winner Shot Down Over Tennessee." Really!

Franklin Porath


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

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

Video: Yves Rossy's Jetman School (Without the Jets)

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

A video released Feb. 8, 2013, by Jetman Yves Rossy suggests the skydiving innovator may be on the verge of marketing an unpowered version of his strapped-on wing and opening a school to teach people how to fly it. Rossy has piloted another version of the wing with four micro-turbines attached to its underside delivering power. He has flown that version across the English Channel and a section of the Grand Canyon. Rossy describes the unpowered version by saying it can achieve a "glide angle" of 4.5. English is not Rossy's first language and a glide angle of 4.5 would translate to a glide ratio of roughly 13:1 -- substantially better than a Cessna 172. It's possible that Rossy's use of the term instead indicates the wing's glide ratio. Rossy says he's flown his gliding wing in excess of 150 mph, he has demonstrated aerobatics while flying it and believes there is much more potential for his unique brand of flight. Rossy is meticulous in his flight preparations, studying terrain, angles of flight and walking portions of the route when able. It is not yet known if his apparently proposed school will train the same pre-flight planning.

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Video: Audio Authority's Flexible Power Unit

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

More owners and pilots would probably invest in ground power units for starting and running avionics in the hangar if the things were just more flexible. One that is comes from Audio Authority, which, besides being a GPU, also doubles as a battery tender. In this video, Aviation Consumer's Larry Anglisano gives us the lowdown on this versatile unit.

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Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to watch on YouTube

 
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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 
 

FBO of the Week: Monadnock Aviation (KEEN, New Hampshire)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Monadnock Aviation at Dillant-Hopkins Airport (KEEN) in Keene, New Hampshire.

AVweb reader Russel Jennings had high praise for Monadnock:

Courteous staff, excellent information, friendly environment, relaxing place with excellent catering. Employees will interact with you in conversation. If needed, the FBO's mechanic will come check out your aircraft if you are having issues. I can personally say I've been to FBOs where you walk in and it's all about them collecting money, very unfriendly — "get in and get out" kind of places. But Monadnock is friendly and takes its customers into consideration. Definitely recommend this FBO to anybody looking for an excellent place to fly into.

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 Ashrith Balakumar of Pittsburgh, PA. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
 
The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 
 

Short Final

Navy basic training:

A normally outstanding student was having a bad day. Keying the intercom by mistake, he said, "Sorry, sir, I am all #$@*^! up."

An immediate reply came back: "Station using profanity, please identify yourself!"

The instructor instantaneously answered, "He may be #$@*^! up, but not that #$@*^! up!"


Charles Thom
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.

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