AVwebFlash Complete Issue: Volume 19, Number 26a

June 24, 2013

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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AVflash! Searches at the Border back to top 
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Arlington Fly-In || July 11-13, 2013

CPB Aircraft Searches: Your Rights And Responsibilities

AOPA has offered guidance to GA pilots if they are met with an intimidating show of force as they're going about their business. (PDF) In the last few weeks there have been widely circulated reports about law-abiding pilots being confronted by heavily armed local cops and federal Customs and Border Protection agents who appear to act as if they have absolute authority to search and interrogate pilots and passengers. "At least 12 of our members have been stopped and had their plane searched by CBP for absolutely no reason at all," said AOPA spokesman Steve Hedges. "We've asked CBP for documents related to the searches, filing a Freedom of Information Act to get it, but so far they have been unresponsive." As always, it's best to be polite with folks carrying semi-automatic weapons but that doesn't mean anyone has to be a pushover.

In every case, the CPB agents appear intent on searching the plane, sometimes with dogs, and that understandably causes some concern with pilots. The legal authority to search may be legally murky and pilots are urged to get on the record as opposing it. They're also advised that if one of the agents so much as turns a screw on the aircraft, he or she might make it unairworthy. AOPA also says the agents seem to think they have the authority to demand logs, written weight and balance calculations and even the airworthiness certificate but FAR 61.51 clearly specifies that only pilot-related documents are required. AOPA is trying to get the incorrect CPB memo that went out to field staff amended.

AOPA Takes A Stand On Customs Searches

They're aware that about 12 of their 400,000 members have been stopped and searched by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and AOPA Wednesday sent a letter to CBP seeking clarification regarding the authority for, and legal limits of, such searches. According to AOPA, none of its pilot members who have been stopped knew of any reason for the searches. The pilot group has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents related to those events, "but so far they have been unresponsive," Steve Hodges, AOPA director of media relations, told AVweb Thursday. Meanwhile, AOPA has crafted a kneeboard-sized advisory checklist for pilots, titled "What to do if stopped by law enforcement." CBP has already given AOPA a timeframe within which it can expect a response to its concerns. And through its letter, AOPA has offered a litigious reply.

AOPA's letter (PDF) challenges CBP to provide a "full explanation" of "the legal basis for CBP to stop and detain aircraft and conduct searches" within U.S. borders and with no connection to a border crossing. AOPA says it has been told on May 16 by CBP that it should receive a reply to its concerns within six months. AOPA's position is that if CBP does not respond to its FOIA request by July 20, it "will pursue such other remedies as are available at law" and contact members of Congress to seek intervention. The first item on the kneeboard advisory list (PDF) is a statement printed in bold text that begins "ALWAYS: Be courteous and respectful ..." It continues to includes basic pilot protections and questions a pilot should ask. And it concludes with a suggestion to step back and take mental inventory: "Are you able to continue your flight safely after such an ordeal?" Pilot who have been stopped by CBP have reported high stress levels as multiple agencies, numerous people, and sometimes canines are called to the scene without offering the pilot much information about reasons for the action.

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Air Show Accident back to top 

Wingwalker, Pilot Killed At Airshow

Pilot Charlie Schwenker and wingwalker Jane Wicker were killed when they crashed while performing on Saturday. The duo was performing at the Vectren Air Show near Dayton. The rest of the show was cancelled but resumed on Sunday. Spectator videos (graphic and disturbing images) show Wicker hanging upside down from the lower wing of the Stearman at low altitude. As Schwenker attempts to roll inverted the aircraft banks sharply and cartwheels before exploding.

The two were killed instantly. Wicker, who worked as a budget analyst at the FAA, started wingwalking in 1990 and in interviews preceding Saturday's show told reporters the performance was the result of hours of practice and fine tuning and she considered it "managed risk." Schenker was an award-winning aerobatic pilot who taught the craft in Virginia.

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In May, BlueStage is all about the sonic experience on wings. Download, swipe, and enjoy! Learn more.
Please Stow Your Electronic Devices (For Now) back to top 

FAA: Rules For Electronic Device Use Delayed

The FAA said Friday that recommendations from an advisory panel that could lead to broader approved use of personal electronic devices aboard airliners have been delayed. Originally expected this summer, the FAA is now says it expects to receive the recommendations this September. Cellphone use is reportedly not within the scope of the panel's focus. But the rule change could set the stage for worldwide standards regarding use of other electronic devices on aircraft during operations below 10,000 feet. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday its sources said that would likely happen. However, changes can still be made while a vast potential in-flight entertainment market waits on the sidelines.

The market for entertainment and business use of onboard Wi-Fi entertainment has been estimated by some sources to be well over $2 billion annually. And if the FAA's standards are accepted worldwide, that could vastly simplify operations for European carriers with flights that routinely traverse the airspace of several countries. Following current rules has not always proven easy for passengers. The FAA's advisory panel has reportedly included in its research reports on passenger habits, including one released last month by the Airline Passenger Experience Association and the Consumer Electronics Association. That report found that, of those people asked, roughly 30 percent said they had at least once neglected to turn off an electronic device like an iPad, tablet, cellphone or e-reader, for the duration of a flight.

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More Innovative Ideas from Paris Air Show back to top 

Compressor Powered Helicopter

A Belgian company called Sagita earned attention at this year's Paris Air Show with its Sherpa mockup, a two-seat, 575-pound helicopter turning counter-rotating blades driven by a compressor system. The compressor is driven by a 130-hp powerplant. It takes air in at the rear of the fuselage and then splits its output, sending some air back to the engine and the rest through the powerplant's cooling system. After leaving the cooling system, that warmed air is then mixed with the engine's exhaust and sent to two turbines that directly drive each rotor. According to the company, the system is 85 percent efficient. And they've already set targets for production and price.

The company hopes to fly the aircraft in two years and start delivering production models in three. It believes the offering will provide customers with a helicopter that is safer, simpler and easier to maintain than more traditional small piston-powered helicopters. Sagita says the Sherpa's transmission requires no lubrication or cooling. It believes that the Sherpa's simplicity and lower parts count will translate into cost savings and improved reliability for operators. In operation, the company projects the helicopter to be capable of carrying 287 pounds of useful load flying at an 85-knot cruise. Twenty-two gallons are expected to provide the aircraft with three hours endurance. Sagita has flown a 1/5 scale technology demonstrator and hopes to follow that with flights of a full-scale prototype sometime in 2015. If the aircraft makes it to market, Sagita says it is targeting a sale price near $200,000.

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A5 Moves Closer to Market back to top 

ICON Announces Production Funding

ICON Aircraft announced Thursday that it has completed a final round of equity funding that will bring its amphibious A5 aircraft through demonstrated regulatory compliance and into full-scale production, but questions remain. The company did not make an announcement regarding its effort to seek an exemption from the FAA that would allow the A5 to operate at 250 pounds over the 1430-pound limit for amphibious LSA aircraft. ICON sent the request for exemption in mid-2012 and this year asked the FAA to deliver a response by May 31. As of Thursday, the FAA had not offered a reply and ICON lists the A5's maximum takeoff weight at 1430 pounds. ICON says the final round of investing, completed in May, has secured "over $60 million" and "the company's order list has continued to grow."

ICON says it has collected "nearly 1,000 aircraft deposits" and production delays have so far been met with "continued patience and enthusiasm." ICON says the delays have allowed for additional developments that have resulted in improvements to the A5, including a spin-resistant airframe. That specific improvement is also the one cited by the company in seeking its weight exemption. The company's final round of financing was led by a "strategic investor from China," the company said. ICON remains a U.S.-based company intent on producing a U.S-built product. ICON is now backed by North American, European and Asian investors.

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In Remembrance back to top 

Oshkosh's Morton, DayJet's Iacobucci Die

Roscoe Morton, "The Voice" of EAA fly-ins for 50 years, died June 15 in Frostproof, Fla., at the age of 81. EAA reported that Morton started calling the airshow portion of what became AirVenture when it was being held in Rockford, Ill. Over the years he took over as the announcers' manager and retired in that position after AirVenture 2011. He was also the announcers' chairman for Sun 'n Fun and sat on the board. Morton was a life-long career pilot whose experience in a wide variety of aircraft and jobs gave him insight to the aircraft he was calling. He retired as a Delta 747 captain.

Meanwhile the founder of DayJet, Ed Iaccobucci, also died last week. Iaccobucci was convinced that per-seat air taxis in small efficient business jets was the future of air travel. He ordered 1,400 Eclipse 500 very light jets and operated for more than a year, mostly in Florida, with a fleet that reached a maximum of 28 aircraft. The company folded in September of 2008. Despite losing $20 million of his own money, Iacobucci never regretted the venture. DayJet was "his favorite venture and high point of his career," said spokeswoman Vicki Harris. "He absolutely loved being part of the aviation industry."

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NASA's Flying Observatory back to top 

Video: NASA's Flying 747 Observatory

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

How do you cut a hole the size of a two-car garage door into the side of a 747 and fly with it at 0.8 Mach without turning the thing into a 300-ton organ pipe? In this exclusive AVweb video, find out how NASA did exactly this for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (or SOFIA). AVweb recently visited the program at its Palmdale, California headquarters.

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AVweb Insider Blog: Behind the Scenes -- NASA's 747 Airborne Telescope Program

On the AVweb Insider blog, Paul Bertorelli describes his recent visit to NASA's SOFIA project and provides some interesting detail on the kind of engineering it took to install a 17-ton infrared telescope in a modified 747 SP. The result: the world's most advanced and sophisticated airborne observatory.

Read more and join the conversation.

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Reader Mail back to top 

AVmail: June 24, 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: Training for the Worst

Regarding your article on flight safety: There is another review of all the possible things that can go wrong. This is very similar to the FAA and NTSB views that have been presented for several years now.

To date, the agencies admit there has been little change in fatality rates the past ten years.

There will always be risk, and there will always be those incidents that happen in spite of all the good planning and consideration.

The accident fatality rate they hope to reduce is not going to be accomplished in this manner.

An incident occurring in flight that requires an emergency landing requires a pilot to be proficient in emergency landing techniques. No matter the cause of an incident, the accident doesn't occur until landing. Historically, more than 75 percent of emergency off-field landings touch down mid-field or beyond in the chosen landing area. Half the fatalities occur from overrunning the field. There is no requirement of proficiency in actual spot-landing touchdown.

Survival technique during an emergency touchdown roll-out is not presented.

Technique for an emergency 180-degree turn when inadvertently entering IMC is not taught well. Few pilots are trained to proficiency in this simple maneuver.

The point being, no matter the risk contemplation and consideration, if something occurs, survival depends on the ability to handle the situation. Until pilots can do this, there will be no reduction of fatalities. Possibly fewer accidents may occur if pilots are frightened enough to not fly at all, but those who do fly will still be subject to the occasional incident that requires proficiency to handle.

Robert Reser

Thrills vs. Risk

Today I see the tragic news about wingwalker Jane Wicker and her pilot Charlie Schwenker being killed at the Dayton Air Show.

I have enjoyed the thrill of calculated risks in bush flying and in developmental flight testing. What I do not agree with is performing low-altitude aerobatics with a wingwalker. I would love to see an FAA policy refusing waivers for such shows.

What are we telling the viewers? It is certainly not a demonstration of the utility or performance of an aircraft.

Ian Hollingsworth

I was at the Dayton Air Show and witnessed the Jane Wicker crash. It was something I didn't want to see and won't forget. Do you really think it's appropriate to put up a link to the video so we can re-live this?

Josh Johnson

Is Innovation Alive?

Regarding the "Question of the Week": Innovation in the U.S. aviation industry is dying. It looks like most of the good stuff is coming from Europe for some reason. With new GA aircraft designs, Europe wins hands down. About all we are leading in is avionics, especially the non-certified market.

John Salak

I see innovation. However, most [new products] that reach market come from offshore. I still believe the U.S. has the most innovative people in the world. The difference is we are burdened by government regulatory and economical constraints which keep us from moving forward.

Rick Tomalewicz

Inovation is a product of the human spirit.

Inovators do not wait until there is a demand for their brainchild. They do it anyway and trust that someone will come along, see their baby, love it as much as they do, and stump up the cash to see it produced.

When the fiscal climate is good, sometimes it happens. And when it's bad, well, maybe no one shows up. But innovation, like the human spirit, never switches off.

Ted Snook

Not Enough Music

In the three-minute segment in today's AVweb, there were only two seconds where we could listen to the "music of the merlins" without a voiceover. That didn't seem right.

Gary Leak

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

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Your Favorite FBOs back to top 

FBO of the Week: Advanced Aviation Jet Center (New Century AirCenter, KS)

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

AVweb's "FBO of the Week" ribbon goes to Advanced Aviation Jet Center at New Century AirCenter Airport (KIXD) in Johnson, Kansas (near Olathe/New Century).

AVweb reader John Keller called Advanced Aviation "a great stop south of the Kansas City area that is worth a visit":

A planned flight into Olathe was delayed 12 hours due to severe weather en route. Jonathon had previously made hotel and rental auto reservations for our arrival but was able to cancel the hotel — without a charge. The rental auto was a 24-hour rental so it was planeside when we arrived. Fuel pricing was due to the CAA Program, but their regular prices are very reasonable, also. Anything we needed at the time they were able to answer or provide in a competent and friendly manner. Excellent customer service all around!

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!

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

Video: Music of the Merlins

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

An extraordinary assembly of Merlin-powered warbirds took to the skies over Hamilton, Ontario on Father's Day weekend, providing sights and sounds not experienced in decades. The star of the show was Jerry Yagen's recently rebuilt de Havilland Mosquito (the only one of its type flying), and it flew in formation with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's Lancaster, alongside two Spitfires and two Hurricanes. AVweb's Russ Niles spoke with Mosquito pilot Mike Spalding of the Military Aviation Museum.

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Video: Diamond DA40 Tundra Edition

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

It turns out there's money in Russia, and people want to fly sophisticated airplanes into places where the runways suck or don't exist. Diamond has risen to the challenge with its DA40 Tundra edition. Paul Bertorelli recently had a flight demo in the airplane and prepared this video report.

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

International Association of Flight Training Professionals (IAFTP)
Effective Briefing and Debriefing Techniques
The importance of instructor briefings cannot be over-emphasized. This is one of the most frequently read discussions posted on the IAFTP web site. What guidance for conducting briefings/debriefings do you use? What are some negative examples of briefing techniques you've seen? Add your comments here.
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.

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The Lighter Side of Flight back to top 

Short Final

The company that I was with had a chief pilot who liked to play with ATC (in the '60s):

Bonanza 123:
"Bonanza 123. Give me the word. I want to make like a bird."

Detroit Tower:
"You got the nod. Leave the sod!"

Bud Walker
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.

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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].

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.