AVwebFlash - Volume 19, Number 14a

April 1, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
What He Didn't Know About His Life
Insurance Cost His Family $500,000

Pilots should take special care when comparing life insurance. Pilot Insurance Center specializes in providing pilots with insurance planning. Get the right coverage. Call PIC at (800) 380-8376 or visit PICLife.com.
Ten-Year Anniversary of Meigs Field Debacle back to top 

Meigs Ten Years After

One of the most astonishing chapters in U.S. aviation history unfolded ten years ago when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley ordered a secretive raid on Meigs Field, sending heavy equipment in under cover of darkness to carve massive Xs across the runway. At the time, Daley claimed the move was necessary to protect the city "from terrorism" but he soon admitted that it was the first stage of fulfillment of a long-held dream to turn Northerly Island, the man-made strip of land that housed Meigs, into an ambitious waterfront park. Ironically, the only development of any significance has been the repurposing of the terminal building into a nature center to anchor some walking trails and a 30-acre patch of ground seeded to natural prairie grasses. LiveNation also built a temporary stage to host concerts but the park is a far cry from the urban Shangri La envisioned by Daley. Meanwhile, a few stalwarts continue the fight to "save Meigs" although there's no realistic expectation that aircraft will ever return, which, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, happened with the advance knowledge of senior officials of the Department of Transportation.

In its anniversary piece on the destruction of Meigs, the Sun-Times says then-Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kreusi, one of Daley's most trusted supporters, hatched the plan and also contacted DOT in advance to make sure there would be "no significant pushback." Although FAA officials were quick to publicly condemn the destruction of Meigs the consequences were ultimately relatively minor. Chicago was fined $33,000 for failing to provide the required 30-day advance notice of closure of the airport and ordered to pay back $1 million of federal airport improvement funds spent on Meigs in previous years. Chicago avoided any penalty at all for improperly diverting federal grants and airline ticket tax revenue to cover the $1.5 million cost of the destruction. It could have been fined $4.5 million for illegally using that money.

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Friends of the Earth Suit Dismissed back to top 

Court Delays Action On Leaded Avgas

A U.S. District Court Wednesday dismissed a suit brought by Friends of the Earth that aimed to push the EPA to decide whether emissions from general aviation aircraft are a threat to public health, but did not dismiss the possibility of further policymaking. The ruling found that the Environmental Protection Agency does have discretion to make an endangerment finding regarding leaded avgas emissions. But it also ruled that the EPA cannot be forced to make an accelerated finding. AOPA said it hopes the ruling will allow general aviation to transition away from leaded fuels based on a schedule "driven by facts and policy, hopefully not by more lawsuits." The EPA is not scheduled to make a decision before 2015.

The petition filed by Friends of the Earth detailed harm cause by lead emissions and claimed that failure of the EPA to make an endangerment finding constituted an "unreasonable delay." The group sued the EPA hoping to set regulations for lead emissions from aircraft. The court found that Friends of the Earth raised significant concerns with its allegations, but ruled it cannot take up the issue as a "citizen suit" within the provisions of the Clean Air Act. The EPA is expected to begin its own public proceedings to determine whether or not the emissions are harmful and a final decision resulting from those proceedings is not expected before mid-2015. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with the lawyer representing Friends of the Earth last year. The podcast is available here.

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Going Pro back to top 

Professional Recognition Sought For Pilots

A Canadian group is trying to get formal recognition for pilots as professionals in the same league as doctors, lawyers and engineers. Tom Machum, president of the College of Professional Pilots of Canada, told AVweb that if successful, the College would set and enforce standards for commercial pilots and provide needed input into regulations and laws that govern aviation in the same way that the governing bodies of other professions operate. "We're hoping that we can transform piloting from its current status which is really kind of recognized as more of a trade into the true realm of being a professional," Machum said. He said the overall goal is to enhance safety by providing the framework for pilots to excel at their jobs. If successful, it would be the first professional pilot designation in the world.

Largely through word of mouth, the College has attracted more than 1,000 members (out of about 24,000 eligible pilots in Canada) and Machum hopes it will gather the support it needs from government to become the self-regulating body it wants to become. Machum said its principal functions would be pilot certification and accreditation of flight school curriculums along with ongoing support and education to ensure professional pilots achieve and maintain the highest levels of expertise. He said it would be open to anyone with a commercial license or higher.

Podcast: Pilots as 'Professionals'?

File Size 7.7 MB / Running Time 8:25

Podcast Index | How to Listen | Subscribe Via RSS

The College of Professional Pilots of Canada has more than 1,000 members in its push to have piloting recognized as a true profession like medicine, law, and engineering. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with College President Tom Machum about the rationale for the movement.

Click here to listen. (7.7 MB, 8:25)

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New Aircraft back to top 

Pipistrel Panthera Rolls (With Video)

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The four-seat, 1000-nm, 200-knot, (predicted) all-composite Pipistrel Panthera rolled onto the grass at Pipistrel's Slovenia facility and successfully ran behind its 210-hp Lycoming for the first time Thursday. The aircraft is highly anticipated by supporters and critics anxious to see if it will live up to performance predictions and also come to market at a competitive cost. A Pipistrel representative told AVweb Friday that the aircraft's airshow schedule has not yet been set for 2013, but the company aims to land the aircraft on U.S. soil as soon as possible. For now, you'll have to be satisfied with video of the sleek aircraft's trailing-link landing gear absorbing the Slovenian turf (backed by an AC/DC soundtrack).

The company said Thursday that it is continuing "functional ground tests" in preparation for first flight and a complete test program. The aircraft is designed for very light weight with a titanium retractable landing gear but includes as standard a full airplane parachute system. The company, which has seen successful in electric flight, has announced plans for several versions of the aircraft, including conventional, hybrid, and all-electric powered versions. Pipistrel will be sending a representative to the CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium April 26 and 27 to discuss the hybrid Panthera and the "ideal electric trainer."

Related podcast: AVweb's Glenn Pew asked Pipistrel last year why you should believe their projected performance numbers.

Eclipse: Expect Deliveries By Year-End

Thursday, Eclipse Aerospace earned an amended production certificate from the FAA, "authorizing the final assembly, test, and certification of the new production Eclipse 550" jet, the company announced. Earlier this month, Eclipse powered up the first truly new aircraft to roll out of its Albuquerque factory in nearly five years. The amended production certificate grants the company approval of its quality system, allowing it to produce, flight test and grant airworthiness certificates to the aircraft it builds. New production Eclipse 550 twin-engine jets should begin reaching customers before year-end.

The company expects to begin deliveries in the third quarter of 2013. The jets are approved for 20,000 cycles, have independent standby displays and come with the company's dual Avio IFMS avionics suite. Eclipse had earned a production certificate in 2012 that allowed it to produce parts for the EA550 but flight test and certification phases required the direct supervision of the FAA. According to Eclipse CEO Mason Holland, "Manufacturers are typically required to build their first group of aircraft under the supervision of the FAA." Holland said that new Eclipse 550 jets will now be delivered under a full FAA production certificate and "we are on our way to delivering jets this year."

Solar Impulse To Fly U.S. This Spring

The Solar Impulse team Thursday announced plans for a multi-stop flight of its solar-powered aircraft, HB-SIA, departing the San Francisco area's Moffett Field in early May and concluding the trip in early July at New York's JFK. Planned stops include Sky Harbor Airport, Ariz.; Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas; and Washington, D.C. One stop prior to D.C. has yet to be announced. Organizers hope the U.S. flight will be the last before the team embarks on a "zero-fuel round-the-world flight in 2015" with a new larger airplane. Structural failure during testing is among the team's previous setbacks.

Last July, the larger aircraft being built to undertake the world flights suffered a cracked spar during structural tests. The failure delayed the team's plans, but the U.S. flight may raise additional awareness about the European project. Solar Impulse chairman Bertrand Piccard and CEO Andre Borschberg are both Swiss and their efforts have so far included a 1,500-mile flight from Switzerland to Morocco that reached 27,000 feet and averaged 30 mph. The current aircraft's wing spans more than 205 feet and is covered with nearly 12,000 photovoltaic cells that run four 10-horsepower electric motors. The cells also charge the aircraft's lithium-polymer battery packs. In flight, the 3,527-pound plane cruises at less than 50 mph. The HB-SIA has demonstrated a duration in flight of 26 hours, 10 minutes, 19 seconds, flying overnight on power collected from the sun and stored in batteries. It has also reached an altitude of 30,000 feet and covered a distance of more than 690 miles along a course.

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Texas Steps into the Breach with Tower Closures back to top 

Texas Takes Over Tower Funding

Texas will take over funding of air traffic control towers at 13 airports that will lose them to the federal government's sequester cuts. The state's department of transportation made the decision on Thursday but it won't become official until the Texas Transportation Commission ratifies it. The commission is meeting in an emergency session next week to consider the move. That seems like a formality, however. "Safety is the primary reason we felt a need to take immediate action for the air travelers and business aircraft that use these airports," Texas Transportation Commissioner Fred Underwood said in a news release.

Texas will pay for the towers out of its existing aviation budget and there was no mention of additional levies or taxes to cover the cost. Not everyone is happy with the move. There are apparently issues with the state's terrestrial transportation infrastructure and critics say the willingness to pick up the slack from the feds on aviation funding flies in the face of the department of transportation's public stance on highways funding. "I'm not quite sure why TxDOT -- who seems to be broke and wants to charges us more to drive on roads -- has all of a sudden come up with money to keep open the Dallas Executive Airport," said Katrina Pierson, a Tea Party activist in Garland. "They definitely want to keep the private jets in the air, for whatever reason."

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Aviation Safety back to top 

Pilot Falls Out Of Airplane

Authorities have found the body of a pilot who fell out of a Zenith 601 aircraft at about 2,500 feet over East Brainerd, Tenn., just east of Chattanooga on Friday. The man was not identified but the latest reports suggest he was an experienced pilot who had recently purchased the aircraft and was being trained to fly it by another pilot. "At some point during their flight, the canopy on the aircraft malfunctioned and, as a result, one of the pilots was ejected," Bradley Gault, a spokesman for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, told local media.

The nature of the malfunction was not detailed. Zenith 601s generally have a bubble canopy that opens forward. Authorities are not offering any speculation either on the attitude of the aircraft or the use of safety restraints at the time the pilot was separated from the aircraft. The other pilot was able to return to Collegedale Airport and land safely.

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

AVmail: April 1, 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: Jet Pilots Want To Live, Too

Regarding the tower closures: This is to the instructor who is worried about the effect of the tower closings and his students mixing with jet and turbine traffic.

I have flown jets into and out of non-towered airports for years. Except for a few that are single-pilot certified, jets are crewed by two very proficient pilots who go extra diligent when in the ATA. We make position reports to let everyone flying in the area know where we are. We do not go blasting into an airport, as you suggest.

As long as you teach your students to remain alert, make the necessary position reports, and not cut in front of speedier traffic, they will survive with or without towers, and so will we.

Glenn Taylor

I remember when the FAA closed a number of towers some years ago. It was billed as the end of the world then, also. Slowly, over the years, all of the towers came back to life, and we grew to depend on them once again. The sprit that makes us leave the safety of the ground to soar among the clouds will not keep us from flying. The bureaucracy that is the FAA will once again have to catch up with us so they can tell us how much we need them.

Terry Blumenthal

Regarding Paul Bertorelli's article "Life in a World Without Towers": Mostly I agree with everything in the article, but I have one caution. When choosing to cancel IFR while still in the air as a perceived courtesy to other IFR traffic, make absolute certain that the approach and landing can be completed VFR.

Trying to re-establish an IFR clearance because of a need to do a missed raises the danger quotient exponentially. If the airport weather is the least bit marginal, it's better to stick with the IFR clearance until on the ground and then cancel, even if it does inconvenience others.

Cary Alburn

You advise pilots that it is acceptable to not state their tail number when making traffic calls at non-towered airports. As a CFI operating out of a soon-to-be-closed-tower airport, I strongly disagree. At airports that see little traffic, this is certainly not an issue. But at a busy Cirrus and Cessna hub like ours with multiple training operations, hearing tail numbers helps differentiate where airplanes are.

It is not uncommon to be number 4 or 5 in sequence, and if those three Cessnas and two Cirruses were only stating aircraft type, it makes it much easier to lose track of position and sequence of the other aircraft. It may be a small issue overall, but I do think an important one — especially at airports that see more GA traffic and training operations.

Ben Kroll

ATC Privatization

Regarding the "Question of the Week": ATC privatization is an idea that should be allowed to quietly go away. Safety-related functions (fire, police, inspection, control) are areas that should remain in hands where profit margins and who sits on the board of directors are not considerations. Like the United States Postal Service? Think Lockheed Martin Flight Service was a good idea? You will love private ATC. As a 25-year air traffic controller, there are lots of things to fix, but this is not how to do it.

Leslie Echols

Absolutely no way should ATC be privatized. Commercial pressure to increase profit will inexorably compromise safety like a metastasizing cancer. You need people overseeing ATC who can make decisions for safety and against profit when such decisions confront aviation.

Jeff Perkins

My objection to privatization is that it becomes simply yet another tax increase disguised as a "fee." As with NavCanada and others, privatization would inevitably come with a menu of charges, both mandatory and optional, for the use of their services, and your current tax load ... would not decrease accordingly.

I say stick with the current system as long as possible; let the public share the costs with us. Selfish but practical!

John Wilson

I live in Langley, British Columbia and base my C-182 at Langley Regional (CYNJ). I just paid my $68 annual fee to NavCanada, the ATC provider in Canada. I have no problem doing this. NavCanada is responsive to their customers' (us, the Canadian pilots) requirements and have frequent open sessions across the country to ensure they are providing the type and level of service that is required. There is no direct government involvement. I suggest the U.S. get over their user-fee phobia and look at Canada for how an ATC system could be set up.

Ken Johnson

Look at Canada's experience. The sale to NavCanada left taxpayers paying the bill for controllers' severance benefits and pay-out of accumulated sick leave. Their seats in the towers never got cold. Again, the users pay the cost of the service.

This is partly why Toronto Pearson is the most expensive airport in the world, not to mention the reduction of service and access by general aviation and closures of many GA airports. An object lesson in the current closures of towers in the U.S. might be to discover how useful a lot of them really are.

Richard Abbott

I've lived, worked, and flown in Europe, Australia, and Canada, places with privatized air traffic systems. The U.S. system is much better. Briefings, flight plan filings, weather, etc. are all paid by the fuel surcharge.

When filing, there's no waiting for a minimum of one hour to get the plan in the system (or 24 hours crossing borders in Europe VFR). Controllers serve pilots. When using flight following, there's no waiting for the $10 bill that comes six weeks later. It's just an altogether better system.

Former CASA chairman Australian Dick Smith, who was responsible for introducing the privatized system in Australia, is on record for saying that the system is not as good as a result.

Just keep the fuel tax. Stop the user fees, and have a sensible approach to modernizing the system.

Serena Ryan

Not a Mechanic

Your article titled "Ex-Mechanic Faces Jail for Fraud" is irresponsible to our industry. As we face a shortage of individuals entering our industry, both pilots and mechanics, calling this individual a mechanic is wrong.

A mechanic is certificated, and the certification lasts a lifetime unless surrendered, suspended, or revoked. A repairman certificate is annually renewed by their repair station. This individual seems to have never been certificated as an A&P, which only validates moral and ethical values certificated mechanics have.

This man was not an aircraft mechanic!

Dale Forton
Professional Aviation Maintenance Association

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

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: AEA -- Invasion of the Tiny Boxes

At the Aircraft Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, we saw major new products — but if you want ADS-B for every purpose, the market has it. The biggest challenge is keeping all the products sorted out.

Read more and join the conversation.

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More Brainteasers

Video from the Aircraft Electronics Association Show back to top 

Video: Aspen's New ADS-B Products

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

Demand for ADS-B products continues to trickle upward, and everyone who is anyone in the avionics business is developing or already selling ADS-B gadgets. Aspen rolled out its first products at the Aircraft Electronics Association show in Las Vegas, with an eye toward a range of solutions that rely on the company's innovative Connected Panel system, an in-cockpit wireless network that links up with tablet computers. In this video from the show, Aspen's George Pariza gives AVweb a tour of the new products.

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Video: Garmin Team X -- Passion-Driven Products

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

Although they're not the centerpiece of Garmin's booth at the Aircraft Electronics Association show in Las Vegas this week, Garmin has made quite a ripple with its announcement of seven new avionics products for the experimental and light sport markets. In this video, Garmin's Jim Alpiser explains why the company is so bullish on the experimental segment and why Garmin carved out a segregated engineering team to develop uncertified avionics, with more products on the way.

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Video: Sandia Aerospace's New Compact Transponder

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

As avonics manufacturerers are spinning out new ADS-B products by the week, they're also creating some new sub-niches. One of those is for a simple, compact Mode-C transponder since some kind of transponder will be needed once the ADS-B mandate is in place. Sandia Aerospace recently added just such a product to its well-respected line of avionics fans, integration boxes, and encoders. At the Aircraft Electronics Association show in Las Vegas, Sandia's Dennis Smith gave AVweb a video tour of the company's new STX 165 compact transponder.

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Air Care Aviation (W03, Wilson, NC)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Air Care Aviation at Wilson Industrial Air Center (W03) in Wilson, North Carolina.

AVweb reader Ron Horton had a great experience there, as did several attending a recent event:

Flew into W03 (Wilson, NC) along with two other planes to give rides to a local church through the NC Baptist Men's Aviation wing. Gave rides to 90 passengers on a beautiful Saturday. Guilford Mooring was running things at the FBO and was most gracious to accomodate our three airplanes and a host of first-time fliers ranging in age from 2 to 82. He kept everyone fueled, shared the facilities, and welcomed the kids playing on the grass between the FBO and the fence next to the ramp. His hospitality left a very favorable impression on lots of locals who had never been to an airport before. Based on conversations, there might be a few new pilots from that group to add to the GA roster someday!

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 Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

In the hangar all day listening to our radio, I heard several pilots ask our tower if they were closing. This was the best exchange:

"Are you guys done for?"

"Who do you mean — me or the tower?"


"I'm done at noon, but the tower is going to be around for a long time."

Scott Peterson
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:

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

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