AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 19, Number 7b

February 14, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
 
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AVflash! The Latest Airline Merger back to top 
 

American, US Airways Boards Approve Merger

After about a year of discussion, negotiation and speculation, the boards of directors of American Airlines and US Airways have independently voted in favor of a merger, according to a Wall Street Journal bulletin (subscription required). The new airline will end up being 72 percent owned by American Airlines' creditors and the rest by US Airways stockholders. US Airways CEO Doug Parker will assume that role at the new airline and American CEO Tom Horton will be the non-executive board chairman, the newspaper said. The merger will create the world's largest airline.

The merger, which has been in the works since soon after American went into bankruptcy protection in late 2011, would be the framework for the airline's plan to emerge from bankruptcy, something that would happen more than a year from now. What's more, the WSJ said most of the creditors would get their accounts settled and American shareholders might even get a little. A bankruptcy judge and federal anti-trust regulators have to sign off on it. In what might have been a show of optimism, American unveiled its new livery a month ago and it incorporates elements of the US Airways motif.

Question of the Week: Is Bigger Better?

How have your airline experiences been lately? Is United better with Continental? Is Southwest better with AirTran? Are Delta and Northwest good together? Will American be better with US Airways? Is rationalization helping?

Is the trend toward airline consolidation a good thing?
(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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Hersman Leading Pick for DOT Secretary? back to top 
 

Hersman Seen As Likely Cabinet Pick

Deborah Hersman, who has been head of the National Transportation Safety Board since 2009, is a top contender for the job of Transportation Secretary, according to various sources. The Christian Science Monitor cited unspecified "reports" saying that Hersman will be President Obama's choice to fill the slot, but Hersman declined to comment. "I feel very privileged to have the job that I have now," she said, "so I am going to be focused on that." Hersman has been a highly visible player in the aviation world, participating in forums at EAA AirVenture, and taking on a wide variety of aviation issues, including pilot fatigue after the Colgan Air crash, air racing after the Reno crash that killed a pilot and 10 spectators, and homebuilt safety.

The Wall Street Journal also cited sources "close to the White House and familiar with the selection process" who said that although a final selection is pending, Hersman is expected to be the nominee. Hersman joined the safety board in 2004 as a board member and is now serving her second term as chairman. AVweb contributing editor Glenn Pew interviewed her in March 2010, covering a variety of topics including glass-cockpit technology and how the FAA and NTSB interact; click here for the podcast.

 
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News Briefs back to top 
 

DoD IG Finds F-22 Crash Report Lacking

The Department of Defense Inspector General has found that an Air Force report stating pilot error as the cause of a fatal 2010 crash of an F-22 Raptor "is not supported by the facts." The report, released Monday, examined the crash of November 2010 that took place in Alaska and killed the pilot, Captain Jeff Haney. The crash preceded an Air Force investigation that sought to determine why dozens of Raptor pilots reported suffering from hypoxia-like symptoms while flying the fighter. The Air Force released its review (PDF) of the crash in December 2011, discounting oxygen deprivation as a contributing factor and stating that "clear and convincing evidence" showed the crash was the result of Haney's failure to recognize and correct inadvertent control inputs in a timely manner. The IG said the conclusion failed to meet the Air Force's standards for "clear and convincing" proof and recommended that the matter be revisited.

As a result of its assessment, the IG recommends that "the Judge Advocate General of the Air Force reevaluate the AIB report and take appropriate action" regarding the report's Statement of Opinion "and other deficiencies." The IG's assessment includes comments from the Air Force, which "concurs" that parts of the Accident Investigation Board's report "could have been more clearly written." However, the Air Force also stated that the Statement of Opinion "was supported by clear and convincing evidence." The Air Force will address "deficiencies" in its report including "the lack of detailed analysis of the non-causal or non-contributory factors; insufficient details regarding conclusions concerning Emergency Oxygen Activation and blood oxygen levels; and, inaccurate references" within the report. The IG has responded to the comments and remains in disagreement about the report's use of "clear and convincing evidence." It also found the Air Force's stated remedial actions to address deficiencies insufficient in their detail. Find the IG report here.

FAA Initiates Phase 2 Of Airport Study

The FAA has announced that its study "General Aviation Airports: A National Asset," which will help the FAA make planning decisions, has entered its second phase "to further define the role of GA airports." Earlier work has resulted in the creation of four new categories for GA airports -- national, regional, local, and basic. More than 2,950 airports are included in the study and the FAA has found that almost 500 of those do not fit into one of the defined categories. Yours could be on the list (PDF -- scroll to page B93). The FAA has now committed to gathering additional information about the airports, in concert with state aeronautic divisions and airport sponsors, for further classification. The FAA says phase one has "revealed the many functions the majority of GA airports provide" and categorization of the airports will help the agency "make more consistent planning decisions."

The FAA says its study has already shown that GA airports serve medical, law enforcement, search and rescue, relief, cargo and industrial functions. The existing categories reflect predominant activities at the airports and include factors like the number and type of aircraft based on a field, passenger boardings and the type of flights that take place. National category airports provide access to both national and international markets. Regional airports are defined as connecting communities to statewide and interstate markets. Local airports are access points for intrastate markets and basic airports serve to support general aviation activities and serve communities as an entry point to the national airport system.

The full list of airports and their current category as identified and compiled by the FAA is available here. (PDF)

 
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CAFE Symposium 2013 back to top 
 

CAFE Symposium, Solar Impulse Visit Set For Spring

The Solar Impulse team in Switzerland has confirmed they will bring their one-of-a-kind aircraft to the U.S. in the next few weeks, after carefully disassembling it and shipping it in the belly of a cargo airplane. The solar airplane will be reassembled in California, probably in one of the large hangars at Moffett Field, home to NASA and Google, just south of San Francisco. That process is expected to take several weeks, then some test flights will be needed. After that, its itinerary includes Washington, D.C., and New York, but no other details have been released. However, the aircraft and pilot Bertrand Piccard are expected at the 7th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium, scheduled for April 26-27 in Sonoma, Calif., CAFE president Brien Seeley told AVweb this week.

"We have invited them to bring the aircraft up to Sonoma County Airport, to the CAFE Flight Test Center, where we have the world's first electric-aircraft charging station," said Seeley. "Their appearance at EAS VII depends upon weather, mainly, and the speed with which they complete their trans-Atlantic move of the aircraft." The lightweight aircraft has a wingspan of more than 200 feet and carries about 200 square meters of solar panels to charge its batteries. The CAFE Symposium features talks by experts in energy, aeronautics, safety, propulsion and more. "Nearly every one of them is a rock-star in the electric aircraft movement," said Seeley. "Great progress in the much-needed domain of energy storage will be presented." The complete agenda and registration information for the symposium is posted online (PDF).

To hear more from Dr. Seeley about the future of electric aircraft and what's coming up at the CAFE Symposium, click here for the podcast.

Podcast: CAFE Explores Electric Aircraft

File Size 7.3 MB / Running Time 8:00

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The 7th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium is coming up in April. Dr. Brien Seeley, president of the CAFE Foundation, talks with AVweb's Mary Grady about the event and explains why he thinks electric propulsion will be a transformative technology for general aviation.

This podcast is brought to you by Bose Corporation.

Click here to listen. (7.3 MB, 8:00)

 
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2012 in Review, Light Sport-Style back to top 
 

LSA Numbers Reflect Slow Recovery

Yesterday's report on shipments of general aviation aircraft left out most light-sport aircraft manufacturers, but LSA advocate Dan Johnson has compiled his own annual report for the industry. Overall, said Johnson, "The first half [of 2012] foretold a better recovery, but the last half of the year stalled somewhat." Based on a count of FAA registrations for Special-LSA aircraft, Cessna's Skycatcher led the fleet, with a reported 94 registrations. The first half of the year set a faster pace for the Skycatcher, with 76 new registrations, which dropped off sharply in the second half to just 23. Johnson speculated the announcement that Cessna will switch the airplane from LSA to Primary category might explain the drop. The growth standout for 2012 was CubCrafters, which took second place with 48 new registrations, up from 36 in 2011, a 33 percent increase. (Click here for an AVweb video report of a flight demo in a CubCrafters S2.)

Aerotrek moved into third place for 2012 with 13 aircraft registered, while Flight Design and American Legend logged 11 each. All other LSA manufacturers registered 10 or fewer aircraft, and the total for the industry was 259 for 2012. New companies continue to enter the LSA market, such as Bristell, Breezer, and Just Aircraft, which Johnson says may show up on the list by next year. Although kit aircraft are not on the list, Johnson noted that in 2012, 203 registrations were counted for Van's Aircraft RV-12 kit planes.

 
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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 
 

New Diesel Passes Vibration Tests

A Wisconsin company said its new high-performance geared diesel aircraft engine reached a development milestone this week when it passed vibration tests done by propeller manufacturer Hartzell. Induced vibration through a gear reduction system eats props but Engineered Propulsion Systems (EPS) spokesman Steven Weinzierl said the integrated counter-vibration systems in the engine work and the engine runs more smoothly than many gasoline engines. "It's a distinct departure from prior engine designs, and we believe what Hartzell has now confirmed: induced vibration is no longer an issue," Weinzierl said. Hartzell said Engineered Propulsion Systems' Vision 350 easily met is durability standards when tested with traditional aluminum props, a carbon fiber model and its new five-bladed graphite/composite propeller. "We were very encouraged to see that the stresses on the propellers were acceptable and lower than most engines we have surveyed," said Hartzell spokesman Bruce Hanke. "We look forward to continuing to work with EPS on this innovative new product." As we reported in 2010, EPS is developing the engine as a direct replacement for high-horsepower gas engines that need leaded fuel to achieve full performance.

The Vision 350 will put out 350 horsepower burning Jet A or kerosene and the fuel burn at 60 percent cruise is 12.3 gph. The engine is a "flat vee" configuration with 4.4 liter displacement and develops full power at 3,800 rpm, hence the need for a gearbox. It's liquid cooled and its integrated preheating system burns fuel from the tanks to warm the coolant in the water jackets for cold starts. Weinzierl said the engine is designed specifically for aviation use and will find a market as a retrofit and new installation in high-performance piston aircraft. Cirrus has already expressed interest in the engine. The company is also targeting the military drone market. It's now building pre-production test articles but has not given a timeline on potential first deliveries.

Click here for a video of the engine in testing.

Aerostats Based 70 Miles From Washington

The Army will test a tethered airship-based missile defense system at a military restricted area near Baltimore starting next year and that has prompted safety concerns for aviation operations. As we reported last week two aerostats packed with sophisticated radar and other gear will be tethered anywhere up to 10,000 feet and stay there for up to 30 days. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., announced the location later in the week. The tests will be done at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds on Chesapeake Bay. The vast military preserve is already designated as restricted airspace but concerns linger about the tests.

Several readers noted the military area is adjacent to some important airways and that the whole area is generally busy with airplanes. Although the military preserve is about 70 miles from Washington, the defense system, called the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, is capable of covering a wide area against air-, land- and sea-based threats. The tests are expected to start in September and last three years. AOPA says it's worried about the concept of tethering airships in the Washington area. "The Washington, D.C., airspace is extremely congested. There is no place to tether these two aerostats where they will not be a hazard to aircraft," said Tom Zecha, AOPA's manager of aviation security. The operation will be headed up by the Army. Last week's story incorrectly identified the North American Aerospace Defense Command as the agency responsible. Data from the aerostats will be integrated into the defense system operated by NORAD to protect the capital.

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

Have you signed up yet for AVweb's no-cost weekly business aviation newsletter, AVwebBiz?

Delivered every Wednesday morning, AVwebBiz focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the business aviation industry, making it a must-read.

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Opinion & Commentary back to top 
 

AVweb Insider Blog: Drones -- More Questions than Answers

Unmanned aircraft are much in the news this month and for good reason. Senate hearings revealed that the CIA drone program is all but a push-button execution system overseen by a select group. Like everyone else, AVweb Insider blogger Paul Bertorelli wonders if there should there be more oversight. Even in the civilian world, drones are multiplying, increasing the likelihood of abuse.

Read more and join the conversation.

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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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.

Don't see a video screen?
Try disabling ad blockers and refreshing this page.
If that doesn't work, click here to watch on YouTube

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.

Don't see a video screen?
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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!

 
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.

 
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.