August 8, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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When the brand-new and infinitely complex Sport Pilot rules debuted with lots of fanfare at Oshkosh late last month, the frequent reaction on the ground was, well, we'll wait and see. But EAA, having invested years of time and effort, isn't waiting -- they are up to their elbows in sorting through all the details, and re-disseminating the rule in digestible bites. On Friday, they published an updated list of "Likely Candidates for Light-Sport Aircraft," showing scores of fixed-wing birds, weight-shift trikes and powered parachutes that Sport Pilots can fly. However, just because an aircraft qualifies as a Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) doesn't mean the manufacturer will choose to go through the necessary procedures to comply with the Light Sport regs. EAA said it will update the list as manufacturers announce their intentions, one way or the other. The list includes homebuilt, kit-built, and ready-to-fly aircraft that meet the LSA definition in the final FAA rules. A Sport Pilot may fly any aircraft that meets the LSA definition, no matter what its certification category. EAA said it will prepare a listing for gliders and gyroplanes at a later date.
So will they or won't they? "I expect that multiple manufacturers will choose to enter this market," Paul Fiduccia, president of the Small Aircraft Manufacturers Association, told AVweb on Saturday. "Many manufacturers will be reviewing the rule and the final ASTM standard, when it comes out, and they will be evaluating their aircraft for manufacturability, and maybe make revisions." So when will you be able to go out and buy a new ready-to-fly Sport Plane? Fiduccia says April 2005, at Sun 'n Fun, is a realistic target. "I believe there is a substantial market out there," he said, that will attract manufacturers, but that remains uncertain. "It's a big experiment we're involved in here," he said. "We won't know until we do it."
Many aircraft that have been flying as factory-builts for years overseas -- such as the Flightstar CT in Europe and some Jabiru models in Australia -- meet the LSA criteria, and the procedure for them to get LSA-certified is fairly straightforward, as long as they are already certified in their home country. Foreign-built aircraft have an advantage in the way liability is structured, Fiduccia said. Also, some U.S. manufacturers who want to start selling factory-built sport planes may choose to build those airplanes abroad. "It just makes more sense," Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft, told AVweb at Oshkosh. "It's a relatively low-volume, high labor business. It's expensive to do that in the U.S. 'Offshore outsourcing' will help to make Light-Sport Aircraft affordable." Fiduccia says that while some manufacturers may reach that conclusion, he doesn't see it as the only option. "I think there will be a mix," he said, of manufacturers building aircraft in the U.S. and elsewhere. "There are a number of factors involved in making that decision," he said. Zenith has a longstanding relationship with the Czech Aircraft Works, which builds Zenith kitplanes ready-to-fly for the European market. If Zenith decides to sell ready-to-fly LSA aircraft in the U.S., Heintz said, they will probably be built in the Czech Republic.
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The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) announced on Thursday that it has chosen Ed Bolen as its new president and CEO. Bolen currently is president and CEO of the General Aviation and Manufacturers Association (GAMA). "Ed is held in high regard by leaders across the political spectrum for the many valuable contributions he has made to the aviation industry," said NBAA search committee director Kenneth Emerick. "His selection from more than 50 outstanding candidates underscores the board's belief that he is the right person to build on NBAA's proud history, and lead it into the future." Bolen takes the place of ex-president Shelley Longmuir, who left the position on April 1 after only nine months on the job. When Longmuir left, so did Bob Warren, executive vice president and COO, who had been hired by Longmuir. Two longtime NBAA staffers, Bob Blouin and Cassandra Bosco, who had earlier announced their resignations, later decided to stay. As AVweb's BizAv reported in April, Warren publicly raised what he called "troubling management issues" about the organization's leadership, and the NBAA responded that Warren's "version of events contains wholesale misrepresentations of role, fact and emphasis." Donald Baldwin has served as the NBAA's interim president and CEO since April, and will continue until Bolen begins his new job on Sept. 7.
As the NBAA wraps up its search effort, GAMA must ramp up to find a replacement for Bolen. (Maybe the NBAA can FedEx them those 49 other resumes they have on file.) For now, Ron Swanda, GAMA's senior vice president of operations, will manage the association's day-to-day affairs. Bolen had been with GAMA since 1995, starting out as senior vice president and general counsel, and took over as CEO in 1996. "Ed Bolen has been a tremendously effective leader," said GAMA Chairman Clay Jones in a news release last Thursday. "While GAMA will miss Ed's leadership, we are pleased that he will continue to serve the general aviation community in his new role." Bolen also served as chairman of the FAA's Management Advisory Council, which provides advice and oversight on management, policy, spending and regulatory matters. Bolen also serves as an advisor to NASA, and holds memberships on the aviation advisory board of the MITRE Corporation, the policy board of RTCA, and the board of directors at the National Aeronautic Association.
Bolen is no stranger to the GA world, and his selection to head the NBAA brought a positive response from AOPA. AOPA prez Phil Boyer told AVweb that he's worked closely with Bolen for years, and thinks the NBAA made a good choice. "Ed's Capitol Hill staff experience and his background representing the general aviation manufacturers have produced an outstanding and very capable advocate for aviation," Boyer said. "He has built an excellent reputation, and I respect him tremendously. It will be a pleasure to work even closer with him in his new assignment."
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Last week was the deadline for bids to outsource the FSS system, and Congress told the FAA to ensure that pilots continue to get the best possible flight briefing and en route information services without user fees, AOPA said on Friday. The House Appropriations Committee told the FAA to have specific, comprehensive customer-service standards to maintain the quality of pilot briefings. AOPA said its legislative affairs staff worked with the committee to add the FSS service directive to a report that accompanies next year's funding bill for the FAA. The bill has been approved by the committee and now goes to the full House and Senate. "This guidance from Congress is a very pointed reminder to the agency that pilots need a high level of service, whether the briefers work directly for the government or indirectly through a contractor," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Flight Service Station functions are safety-of-flight issues, and pilot service and safety can't be shortchanged." The FAA is currently conducting a study to determine whether it should contract out some FSS functions, much as it does already with the DUAT service. Bidders on the FSS system include aerospace companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. The FAA itself, in partnership with FSS equipment manufacturer Harris Corporation, is also in the bidding.
The FAA last week awarded Boeing Co. the second phase of the Global Communications, Navigation and Surveillance System contract, Government Computer News (GCN) reported on Friday. Boeing will develop networks for surveillance data, weather and aeronautical information, GCN said. The aim of the project is to allow for safe and secure increases in air traffic capacity. Network-enabled ATC aims to give users and air traffic managers a common operating picture that will encourage collaborative decision-making and provide for more rapid response to unexpected events, such as aviation weather and security threats, according to GCN. The air traffic modernization contract is worth $12.9 million for the first year and $23.2 million if the FAA picks up the second-year option, GCN said.
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When two people died in the crash of a Piper PA-32 in the Texas Hill Country on Saturday night, they were the 19th and 20th Texans to die in small-aircraft crashes in just a week. That's likely a coincidence, Jim Burnett, former NTSB chairman, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But the hot weather could be a factor, he said. "I would say there is a risk to all planes when you have 100-degree temperatures," Burnett said. "If you have a plane that's been dinged up a little bit or not performing at top capacity or is heavily loaded, it could be a factor." The string of crashes included a father and son returning from Oshkosh in an RV-4; a family of five from North Texas who crashed on takeoff in Missouri in a Piper PA-32; a twin Aerostar 601P that crashed into a house near Austin shortly after takeoff, killing all six on board; a Mooney M20J that stalled on short final on Wednesday, killing three; and a PA-32 that struck powerlines on Wednesday, killing the pilot and passenger.
It seems we have a race for space ... the underdog da Vinci Project, from Canada, rolled out their Wild Fire spacecraft last Thursday in Toronto, and while they were at it, they said they plan to launch for the $10 million X Prize on Oct. 2 (the Paul G. Allen / Burt Rutan SpaceShipOne will make a first attempt Sept. 29). The project, which has depended on a volunteer workforce numbering in the hundreds, also announced it has secured major sponsorship from GoldenPalace.com, an online casino. Their plan is to carry a three-seat rocket-powered capsule to 80,000 feet beneath a helium balloon, disengage, light the fires, ride the rocket into space, and fall back to earth beneath a parachute. Yup. "We're very close to achieving our mission," da Vinci Project leader and pilot Brian Feeney said in a statement. "The da Vinci Project is on the cusp of a new era of space travel for humankind." The project has designated a launch site in Saskatchewan, where there are lots of wide-open spaces for landing. Burt Rutan's team at Mojave already has announced it will launch Sept. 29 and make a second flight on Oct. 4. But Rutan said at Oshkosh that he has planned for three launches just in case, so there's no guarantee his SpaceShipOne will reach the required altitude on the first try. Of course, there's no guarantee the Canadian team will make it either -- they have never flown their system at all. The two teams are among 26 around the world seeking the prize, which is intended to promote the development of a nongovernmental manned spaceflight industry. To win, each team must launch twice within two weeks, and climb to 100 kilometers.
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On Saturday, EAA released its preliminary figures from this year's AirVenture fly-in. The estimated attendance figures show a 10- to 12-percent decrease from last year's total of 770,000 for the centennial event (not at all obvious to us), but the number of commercial exhibitors held almost steady -- with 802, compared to the 2003 record of 807. "A near-record number of vendors throughout the grounds reported brisk sales and interest, while visitor surveys show their experiences were overwhelmingly positive," said EAA President Tom Poberezny. EAA cited weather (rain, thunderstorms ... that we did notice), economic factors and other (unspecified) reasons for the drop in attendance. More than 10,000 airplanes, including nearly 2,500 show planes, made the trek to Oshkosh this year. "EAA again brought together the world of flight for a celebration that is unmatched anywhere else in the world for its size and scope," Poberezny said. EAA counted more than 30,000 campers, 700 reporters from five continents, 4,000 volunteers and 1,429 registered international visitors. Currently, EAA AirVenture 2005 is scheduled for July 26-August 1, although the finalized dates and theme will be announced later this year, EAA said.
Tomb Raider film star Angelina Jolie has been taking flying lessons in Santa Monica, Calif., it was reported last week. Jolie, who moonlights as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, says she wants to be a pilot because she plans to retire from show business in a few years and work to deliver aid to refugees around the world. Jolie also said she's eager to impress her three-year-old son, Maddox. "Every time Mad sees a plane he's amazed," she said, according to Crienglish.com. "If I could actually fly a plane by the time he's four, I'll be like Superman to him." You know, we had a poll recently about whether flight instructors are overpaid ...
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Two pilots died in a midair collision near Essex County Airport (Caldwell) in New Jersey on Saturday. The two aircraft, reportedly a Piper and a Cessna, were both in the pattern, one for landing and one doing touch-and-goes...
Extra Aircraft's EA-500 six-seat single-engine turboprop has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Company officials said FAA certification is pending, and once certification is complete, Extra will begin production in Germany, with plans for the first aircraft to be finished in December...
A hot-air balloon carrying 13 people collided with electrical wires in southern Canada last week. The pilot landed safely and no one was hurt...
The TSA reminds GA pilots to be on the alert, and follow GA security guidelines.
If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Drop us a line. Submit news tips via email to email@example.com.
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The Pilot's Lounge #77: FBO Professionalism; An Oxymoron?
Who was it said you can't get good help anymore? With unemployment higher than usual, you'd think FBOs would be able to hire (and train and hold on to) professional, customer-service-oriented staff. AVweb's Rick Durden thinks any FBO that doesn't strive for professionalism will soon go out of business. Oh, wait a minute ...
Reader mail this week about Oshkosh, Sport Pilot, new and old engines and much more.
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Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
As promised Thursday, we're presenting a bonus edition of "Picture of the Week" partly to catch up with all the great photos you sent us during AirVenture, and partly because we love looking at airplane pictures! So kick back and enjoy this special bonus edition of "PotW" but don't forget to send us your amateur aviation photos!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
Used with permission of Stan Lindholm
Stan Lindholm of Westlake, Ohio sent a half-dozen terrific air show photos this week,
but this one of the Aeroshell aerobatic team was our favorite.
Congratulations, Stan your AVweb baseball cap is on the way!
here to view a large version of this image
Click here for a medium-sized version
AVweb continues to receive a large number of excellent images for our POTW contest. Here are some of the runners-up. Click on the links below to view larger versions.
"U.S. Army Saying 'G'Day' to Aussie Controller in Baghdad"
Peter Hartley of Mt. Crosby, Australia captured a U.S. Army
copter departing Baghdad from the control tower
Photo by the EAA Staff
Bobby Hargrave of Cantonment, Florida, submitted this photo of
13-year-old Brandon Caris launching a glider he made at the
EAA Youth Camp in Oshkosh this June
To enter next week's contest, click here.
A Reminder About Copyrights: Please take a moment to consider the source of your image before submitting to our "Picture of the Week" contest. If you did not take the photo yourself, ask yourself if you are indeed authorized to release publication rights to AVweb. If you're uncertain, consult the POTW Rules or send us an e-mail.
MIKE BUSCH ANNOUNCES SPECIAL NEW YORK SEMINAR ON OCTOBER 2-3 ...
Overheard by passenger on United flight SNA to ORD...
Fedex ###: Fedex ### with you at FL230.
Kansas City Area Control: Fedex ###, roger. How long to climb to FL310?
Fedex ###: Roger, just a minute...
Unknown 1: I gotta get me one o' whatever he's flyin'.
Unknown 2: ...must be outta Cape Kennedy.
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