AVwebFlash - Volume 19, Number 19b

May 9, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! (Some) Answers About Tower Closures back to top 

FAA Addresses Some Tower Closure Issues

The FAA Wednesday announced that 72 control towers (PDF) and other facilities that had been slated to shut down night operations to meet budget cut requirements will stay open. The FAA had planned to eliminate night shifts at 69 towers, two regional approach control facilities and one tower that also provided approach control services. The sites were targeted in response to spending cuts required by sequestration. Most of the facilities saw light traffic during the proposed hours of closure, but not all. Chicago's Midway -- which handles about 250,000 flights per year -- was on the list. There are other tower closure issues still pending.

The FAA did not immediately elaborate on their decision to keep the facilities open at night and has not yet determined the fate of 149 federal contract control towers also targeted by the cuts. The FAA had planned furloughs for staff, including air traffic controllers, as part of its effort to trim $637 million from its budget through Sept. 30 as required by sequestration. However, those furloughs correlated with increased flight delays early this month, prompting Congress to allow the FAA to transfer $253 million between accounts to keep air traffic control facilities fully staffed. The FAA has not yet announced whether it will use part of the $253 million now available to keep 149 smaller federal contract control towers open beyond June 15, or what other accounts may suffer.

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Dreamliners Return to U.S. Skies back to top 

United Will Re-launch 787 May 20

United Airlines will start using the Boeing 787 on domestic routes on May 20, USA Today reported on Wednesday. A flight from Houston to Chicago will be the airline's first flight for the jet since it was grounded by the FAA in mid-January, after two incidents when the airplane's lithium-ion batteries overheated. It's also the first flight announced for the jet on a U.S. route. Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways already have resumed 787 service. The FAA has approved a modification that aims to both "prevent and isolate a fault should it occur," Boeing said. Meanwhile, the NTSB is continuing its investigation to try to determine why the batteries malfunctioned.

Air India is expected to resume 787 flights in mid-May, and to have all six of its 787s flying by early June, according to The Wall Street Journal. The approved fix requires operators to install new batteries and battery chargers, which are "designed to prevent cell failure and a battery overheat condition which can lead to a thermal event." Operators also must install a new battery enclosure and ducts that are designed to remove vented gases and contain a thermal event. The changes will add about 185 pounds to each aircraft. The full text of the Boeing service bulletin -- all 516 pages of it -- is posted online.

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News Briefs back to top 

Report Criticizes FAA's Oversight Of Repair Stations

Nearly 4,800 repair stations around the world provide aircraft repair services to U.S. carriers, and the FAA is not doing enough to oversee them, the Transportation Department Office of Inspector General said on Monday. "We found that while FAA developed a risk-assessment process to aid repair station inspectors in identifying areas of greatest concern, its oversight continues to emphasize completing mandatory inspections instead of targeting resources where they are needed based on risk," according to the OIG report. Inspectors visited 27 repair stations during the review and said they found "numerous systemic discrepancies."

Foreign repair stations are not inspected using a risk-based system, the report says. Also, the FAA's oversight of foreign and domestic repair stations "lacks effective, standardized processes for identifying deficiencies and verifying that they have been addressed." The FAA agreed with all nine of the report's recommendations. A new oversight system -- the Safety Assurance System -- is in the works and will be implemented starting in the summer of 2015, the FAA said. Christian Klein, a spokesman for the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, which represents aviation maintenance and manufacturing companies, said, "shortcomings" at the FAA don't translate into safety deficiencies in the industry. "Regardless of whether or not regulators are looking over their shoulders, our members have an overwhelming business incentive to achieve the highest levels of safety possible," Klein said. The full report is posted at the OIG website.

AOPA Seeks Input On Flight Training Experiences

Anyone who has been a flight student in the last two years is invited to take part in an online poll and share their experience and insight, AOPA said recently. The poll deadline is Aug. 9 and is open to all; you don't need to be an AOPA member to participate. "This unique pilot poll will give people a great opportunity to share feedback on their flight-training experiences," said Shannon Yeager, vice president of AOPA's Center to Advance the Pilot Community. The poll also asks participants to nominate a flight school and instructor for AOPA's Flight Training Excellence Awards.

AOPA said the poll is based on extensive research into the optimal flight training experience and focuses on four key factors: educational quality, customer focus, community, and information sharing. The poll doesn't require you to enter any personal information, and takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. "We're trying to get as much feedback as possible," Yeager told AVweb. He is interested in feedback not just from primary students but anyone who took advanced instruction, a flight review, or any other kind of training experience. "We really want to know what's going on," he said. Award winners will be announced at the AOPA Summit, Oct. 10-12, in Fort Worth, Texas.

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HondaJet Certification Delayed

Honda Aircraft Co. confirmed this week it will delay until late 2014 its certification effort for the HondaJet light business jet to accommodate more testing for the aircraft's GE Honda Aero engines. The company announced last October that it was aiming for full FAA certification in the first half of 2013 with deliveries to customers to follow before year-end. Honda Aircraft said it now expects the jet's engines to be certified late this year. The company has not yet set a new delivery schedule.

Aircraft are already on the line at the company's Greensboro, N.C., production facility, and the company says it will provide more details about the HondaJet delivery schedule sometime later this year. Honda's facility at Piedmont Triad International Airport employs about 800 people and the manufacturer is currently working to complete a $20 million customer service facility there. The company says its hiring and construction goals remain on target and it is still hiring. Honda is committed to adding more than 400 jobs to support the program.

Lost Russian Airplane Found

The burned wreckage of an Antonov An-2 biplane with 13 people on board that crashed last June in Russia was found late Saturday, and officials confirmed that all 13 were found dead at the scene. The airplane had taken off after 11 p.m. from an airport in the Ural mountains, reportedly by "revelers … who did not inform air traffic control," according to the Ria Novosti news service. The pilot, according to the BBC, had flown the airplane frequently and took off with a group of friends he'd been drinking with, presumably to visit a fishing spot or a sauna. An extensive search for the missing airplane was called off last November, due to winter conditions, and was expected to resume in the spring. Grouse hunters found the wreckage less than five miles from the airport.

Officials said there is no on-board data to be retrieved from the wreck. Some relatives of the victims have raised questions about why it took so long to find the site and some have advanced conspiracy theories about a cover-up to hide the truth. "I believe the plane was dragged to that place and burned," Anastasia Rogulina, whose sister died in the crash, told The Daily Mail. Another relative said perhaps the airplane had been shot down accidentally during a missile test, and the military wanted to keep it secret. The airplane was hard to find because of the dense forest and marshy conditions, officials said.

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What You Missed in AVwebBiz This Week back to top 

Some Execs Are Flying More (Corrected)

Business aircraft use still hasn't recovered to pre-recession levels but some sectors of the economy are using airplanes a lot more than they used to. A study by JSSI, a large support and technical advisorycompany reported by CNBC, says those in the transportation business have more than doubled their aircraft use recently in search of new markets. At the other end of the spectrum, technology companies are logging less than half the hours they used to and other struggling sectors, like consumer goods, are also down substantially. "It tells me people are being a little more judicious about how and when they fly," said JSSI CEO Neil Book. "The guy who used to fly 600 hours a year is now flying 500 hours." What's also changing is where they're flying.

Book said executives are taking longer flights, heading to international destinations to find new business. "What we're seeing is people are flying internationally more, going into new markets, developing markets," he said. The market for large intercontinental business jets has remained buoyant through the recession with the light and mid-size market bearing most of the decline. Book also says that public perception of business aircraft use is likely part of the reason executives think twice before flying. The irony is that automotive executives are flying 60 percent more these days. It was the trip by auto executives to Washington in 2008 seeking government bailouts that is most widely implicated in the negative public view of corporate aviation.

Congressmen Push Part 23 Rewrite

A bipartisan group of U.S. House members led by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., has introduced a bill designed to propel revisions to FAA Part 23 certification standards into law. The Small Aircraft Revitalization Act of 2013 will establish a "date certain" for implementation of FAA's Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) recommendations, which were sent to the agency last week. Date certain is a legal term setting a deadline for putting the measures on the books although it's not clear what date will be set. The Part 23 revisions are aimed at making certification easier and allowing easier incorporation of new technologies in certified aircraft. It would set up a system of compliance through consensus-based standards. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association cheered the bill's introduction.

GAMA has been a key player in the Part 23 rewrite and GAMA President Pete Bunce told AVweb at Aero 2013 a couple of weeks ago that the changes are needed. "When you can go and put modern equipment into an amateur-built aircraft and have it perform just tremendously well, but then it costs ten times as much to be able to put that into a certified airplane … wait a second, our regulatory process is defeating the purpose for which it was set up, and that's to enhance safety. We, as an industry, need to change that," he said. Bunce said Tuesday the bill will keep the process focused. "We hope the bill will spur the FAA to move quickly in adopting the ARC's recommendations to improve safety and help to revitalize the lighter end of the aircraft market."

AVwebBiz: AVweb's Business Aviation Newsletter

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We Ask, You Answer back to top 

Question of the Week: EAA's Role

Chairman of the board and interim CEO Jack Pelton says EAA represents personal aviation — everything from jet warbirds to paragliders.

What do you think? Who does EAA represent?
(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.)

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.

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New on AVweb.com back to top 

AVweb Insider Blog: Flying Car Fatigue

We don't know about you, but Paul Bertorelli has about had his fill of flying car concepts. How about just bringing one of these things to market and spare us the additional concept cars? We're all for the vision and imagination thing, but how about some actual flying hardware for a change? Read the entire rant on the AVweb Insider blog.

Read the entire rant on the AVweb Insider blog.

Video: Rotax 912iS Efficiency -- Better than Claimed

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

At Aero in Friedrichshafen, Germany two weeks ago, Rotax revealed some flight test data that shows that their new 912iS engine is much more fuel efficient than originally claimed.

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

Brainteasers Quiz #183: Fly Your Priorities


If a control tower closes in the wilderness, does it make a sound? Politicians may diddle FAA budgets until the skies are porcine black, but we'll fly ... provided we keep our priorities upright by sequestering this quiz.

Take the quiz.

More Brainteasers

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Honaker Aviation (KJVY, Sellersburg, IN)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Honaker Aviation at Clark Regional Airport (KJVY) in Sellersburg, Indiana.

AVweb reader Charles Black recommended the FBO:

Kevin Happel and crew proactively removed a bird nest from the engine compartment. It could have led to an in-flight engine fire. I never suspected it was there. Profuse thanks for noticing the bird activity.

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!

Peter Drucker Says,
"The Best Way to Predict the Future Is to Create It"

It's easy for your company to be more proactive, flexible, and entrepreneurial with AVweb's cost-effective marketing programs. Discover the benefits of instant response, quick copy changes, monthly tracking reports, and interactive programs. To find out how simple it is to reach 255,000 qualified pilots, owners, and decision-makers weekly, click now for details.
Reader-Submitted Photos back to top 

Picture of the Week: AVweb's Flying Photography Showcase

Our latest winning photo comes from Steve Nelson of Westminster, CO. Click here for the rest of this week's submissions.
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].

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