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The FAA was expected to announce Monday which control towers will close due to federal budget cuts, but now that announcement has been delayed until Friday, March 22. The FAA plans to eliminate
funding for as many as 232 towers, most of them run by contractors, but operators of the affected airports were invited to make a case to the FAA why those measures would "adversely affect the
national interest." Last Friday, FAA chief operating officer J. David Grizzle said the FAA has "received a very large number of responses" and needs more time to "review comprehensively the submission
on behalf of each airport."
No change was announced for the actual shutdown schedule. On April 7, 173 towers are expected to close, with 16 more to
shut down on Sept. 30. The FAA has closed its request for comments on the closures.
Communities and pilots alike have always accepted the notion that the federal government has a definite role in building aviation infrastructure. But does that apply to control towers and sleepy
little fields that don't really need them? The FAA is about to answer that question. On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli gives you a shot at offering your own opinion.
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Critics that include the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) and a senior curator for the Smithsonian Institution have refuted claims made this month and supported by Jane's All the World's
Aircraft that Gustav Whitehead piloted a powered aircraft years before the Wright Brothers. The claim, which
specifically stated that Whitehead first flew his original powered monoplane by at least 1901, was recently promoted by Australian aviation historian John Brown. Brown's evidence appeared to satisfy
Jane's editor, Paul Jackson, who included it in the foreword of the 100th edition of Jane's All the World's Aircraft. NAHA calls the evidence "fanciful" and notes a letter written by the Smithsonian's
Tom Crouch that states the persistent accounts of Whitehead's success have been previously discredited.
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance is a not-for-profit corporation designated by Congress to manage the National Aviation Heritage Area
that maintains a PO Box at Wright Brothers Station in Ohio. NAHA cites a letter written on March 15 by Crouch that claims an individual cited by a 1901 newspaper article as a "witness" of Whitehead's
alleged flight later said he "was not present." According to Crouch, the "witness" told an investigative journalist in 1936 that "I do not remember or recall ever hearing of a flight with this
particular plane or any other that Whitehead ever built." Crouch's letter was provoked by "a new wave of interest in the Whitehead claims" and concludes that Jane's editor, Paul Jackson, "like the
editors of Scientific American" would have been "well advised to take a look at the historical record of the case, and not make his decision based on a flawed website." According to Crouch, based on
available evidence, the claims of Whitehead "must remain, not proved."
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Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has reopened its aircraft rescue firefighting training and research facility and announced a partnership with Embry-Riddle after a yearlong expansion that
includes a new burn pit and "the only" Airbus A380 training hull in the United States. The $29 million expansion was designed to enhance the facility's real-world training environment and improve its
capabilities as a research center. Prior to the expansion, the facility trained more than 15,000 students from 24 countries. It will now integrate an Aviation Fire Science program developed by
Embry-Riddle. DFW is also partnering with the FAA and ICAO for information sharing.
DFW aims to share the results of research conducted at the facility to help develop and share best practices. Course offerings include aircraft and structural fire suppression, incident management,
aircraft rescue and firefighting, emergency vehicle operations and vehicle mass applications. The facility is integrated with regulators, aircraft designers, firefighting organizations, air carriers
and equipment manufacturers for the purpose of sharing learned experiences both in the real world and training/research environment. The facility's "unique" A380 mockup offers multiple representations
of aircraft interiors, including passenger and cargo aircraft. It includes "key components" of the cockpit and "is situated on a fuel spill burn area" that the airport says can better simulate
interior and exterior emergency scenarios.
The one-of-a-kind Orbis flying eye hospital will get an upgrade this year, transitioning from a DC-10 to an MD10 donated by FedEx. The flying hospital travels the world to deliver surgical eye care
and training to people in poor countries, with a fully equipped surgical suite and staff on board the aircraft. "The new MD10 will have many new advantages," Orbis spokesman Christopher Bogusz told
AVweb. The interior will be configured to handle new custom-made modules. "These innovative modules are essentially stand-alone units that can be upgraded, replaced, or easily taken off the
aircraft to be modified," Bogusz said. Volunteer pilots from FedEx and United Airlines do the flying.
The MD10 has 50 percent more range, which will reduce fuel stops, saving time and money. It will also require just two pilots, while the old DC-10 needed two pilots and a flight engineer. It should
also be cheaper and easier to maintain. Improved technology in the cabin will make it easier for the medical personnel to access information and communicate. Also, more FedEx pilots are available who
can fly the MD10. "While we work to finalize the MD10, we will continue to fly our DC-10, which is in great condition," Bogusz said.
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According to a transcript of the cockpit voice recorder, the captain of the Air France Airbus 330 that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 said he had not had enough sleep the night before, a detail
that was not previously released, according to the French magazine Le Point. Le Point says that in a judicial transcript it acquired, the captain said, "I didn't sleep enough last night. One hour, it's not enough." According to ABC News, the new information raises concerns about the investigation and whether the full content
of the CVR transcript should be made public. Investigators released a final report on the crash
Meanwhile, Airbus officials have found that simulators used to train crews can't accurately replicate the scenario faced by the 2009 crew when the pitot tubes iced up and the airplane subsequently
stalled. "The whole training philosophies need to be adjusted," Airbus test pilot Terry Lutz said in a recent presentation at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, according to Bloomberg News. Lutz's co-presenter, Paul Bolds-Moorehead, a senior lead engineer
at Boeing, said, "It has been extremely challenging to try and get an accurate simulator, post-stall. Could we develop a way to provide some kind of angle-of-attack limiting function? It would be very
problematic to do, but it's something we should probably look into."
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Author Richard Bach, known for his stories about flying and most famous for the classic Jonathan Livingston Seagull, this week published a new book about a cross-country flight in his
seaplane, Travels with Puff, A Gentle Game of Life and Death. "Could be that non-flyers would be startled at the trip, but the book was written for flyers, and for me," Bach told AVweb
in an email interview on Tuesday. The book, illustrated with photographs by fellow traveler Dan Nickens, describes how he learned to fly the SeaRey amphibian in Florida then flew it back to his home
near Seattle. The story captures the adventure of facing new challenges, exploring new landscapes, and making new friends along the way.
The book treats Puff, the SeaRey, as a character with a personality of her own, a tradition in aviation writing that extends back at least to Charles Lindbergh. "Lindbergh talked about the spirit
[of his airplane]," Bach wrote to AVweb. "We was the two of them, the pair of them, airplane and pilot. Sorry, I don't know how it works. When a pilot takes care in difficult moments, I
think, sees to fuel and oil before hamburger and potato chips, of that care and choice of kindness, makes a subtle friendship. Imagine her to speak to you, time to time she will. That's my experience
and speak she does, quiet with the hush of wind past her wings. I didn't write her words, I heard them and set them down."
Bach also wrote to AVweb about the accident last year that damaged the seaplane and sent him to the hospital with serious
injuries. "Wish I could see what happened to Puff and me six months ago," he wrote. "But I'd just be saying what others said. I had a lovely farm field for my landing, soft and beautiful. As I touched
the grass the view went black, instantly. No pain, no inversion for Puff, no fire, no one risking their life to cut me clear and drag me out ... no nothing till I waked in a hospital a week later.
Looked like 15 minutes to me, I thought I was dreaming, and maybe I was." The airplane will be restored and will fly again, he said. "Puff's own life is no more in danger than mine."
Bach also recently sent to his publisher a fourth part to his Jonathan Livingston Seagull story. "The fourth (and final) story was written with the first three parts, 40 some years ago,"
Bach wrote. "I left it out since it seemed impossible. Time said you need to say it now." Bach continues to recuperate at home in Washington. The book, Travels With Puff, is available today
online and in bookstores.
A mountaintop in Utah that's a popular launch site for paraglider and hang-glider pilots is being destroyed by a mining operation, and the fliers have launched a protest. "This is a jewel, this is
a famous place," said Jonathan Jeffries, a paraglider, at a recent meeting where fliers gathered to plan a mountain-saving strategy. "People come from all over the world to fly here." The site, known
as Point of the Mountain, just south of Salt Lake City, is owned by a mining company, and bulldozers are now infringing on the fliers' site. The fliers have launched a web site, an online petition, and a Facebook page in an effort to
organize support and preserve the mountaintop for recreation.
Chris Hunlow, a sport flier, told the local KSL News the new mining activity will change the ridgeline and disturb the wind
flow over the mountain. Jake White, a spokesman for the mining company, said the company is supportive of the paragliders and in the past has agreed to property trades that protected their launch
sites. "We've begun digging and mining on one of the slopes close by here that is within our property boundaries, but we don't have plans to go much further than that," White said. However, "that is
where we are catching our lift, is right there," said paraglider pilot Milly Wallace. "Anything that disturbs that is going to change the flow of that wind."
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As we told you Monday the popular head of EAA's homebuilder section Chad Jensen was dismissed from that position but EAA was still
hopeful of finding a place for him in the organization. That apparently happened and Jensen is now Homebuilt Technical Specialist through EAA's Member Services team.
The first truly new Eclipse aircraft to come out of the factory in Albuquerque in almost five years has been powered up and will be delivered to the customer in the fall. The Eclipse 550 is an
updated version of the Eclipse 500, of which 260 were built before the company collapsed in 2008. The 550 uses the same airframe and PW610F engines but includes modernized flight systems and optional
features like enhanced or synthetic vision, autothrottles, satellite phones and anti-skid brakes. Eclipse Aerospace CEO Mason Holland said the milestone achievement sets the stage for a measured
return to aircraft production by the company. "This event is another key signal to the world that we continue on our methodical and well-executed plan to reintroduce production and delivery of the
Eclipse 550 Jet this year."
Holland said the market seems to be turning around and the Eclipse, with its base price of less than $3 million, is positioned to take advantage of it. In the past three years, Eclipse has
concentrated on essentially finishing the legacy aircraft, which were orphaned to some degree by the collapse of the original company. The refurbished aircraft were called the Total Eclipse. The new
aircraft offers several enhancements not available on the older models.
The Pentagon invoked a rarely used power in overriding a congressional review of Beechcraft's second appeal of the loss of a contract to the U.S. Air Force. Citing "unusual and compelling
circumstances," the Pentagon told Embraer to get going on supplying 20 Super Tucano light air support aircraft to the Afghanistan Air Force and ignore Beechcraft's appeal. The Air Force picked the
Super Tucano for a second time over the Beechcraft AT6B in January after the former Hawker Beechcraft successfully appealed the first contract award. Beechcraft protested the latest contract award to
the Government Accountability Office but the Pentagon action stopped that process cold. Beechcraft says it's considering its options and has issued a statement critical of the Pentagon's action,
calling it "misguided."
Meanwhile, Embraer has signed a 10-year lease on a 40,000-square-foot building in Jacksonville to finish the aircraft as part of its deal with the primary contractor, Sierra Nevada Corp. Embraer
said the facility will create up to 1,400 new jobs. The Jacksonville facility will assemble the aircraft and install the military hardware. While Kansas politicians are decrying the decision, Florida
officials are naturally pleased with the way things worked out. "A great team came together to make a solid case for building this plane in Northeast Florida, resulting in a 'win - win' for the First
Coast economy and our national defense," said Congressman Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., who represents Florida's 4th congressional district.
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Eclipse is touring the country with its Total Eclipse, a factory re-do of the original EA500. But the airplane is a good stand-in for new production airplanes, which will be called
Eclipse 550s. AVweb recently took a flight demo in a Total Eclipse and prepared this video report.
AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to HOVA Flight Services at Gilbert Airport (KGIF) in Winter Haven, Florida.
AVweb reader Christopher Leonard told us how impressed he was with the facilities at staff at HOVA:
This is the best FBO I have been to in a long time. The staff is genuinely friendly, and there is a true GA focus here. The restaurant inside the FBO building is excellent and creates a sense of
community. The airport is active in flight training and promoting GA. The facilities are beautiful, and fuel prices for such an outstanding new facility are very reasonable. Getting in and out of
the airport is a breeze. I would highly recommend this FBO and airport to anyone!
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.
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