August 18, 2004
By The AVweb Editorial Staff
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For a group of folks that is about to write checks worth millions of dollars, aviation insurance underwriters we've spoken with are actually showing some optimism as the figures come in from Hurricane Charley's Florida rampage. "It's beginning to look like it's not as bad as we thought," said Avemco spokesman Jim Lauerman. "I think it will be the worst [damage total] since [Hurricane] Andrew [in 1992] but it won't match Andrew. It's certainly not an insignificant event." Out of almost 700 airplanes in the path of the storm that were covered by Avemco, so far there have been claims filed on fewer than 50. Rick Mallard, of Falcon Insurance, EAA's insurance carrier, said claims against his firm could run into the hundreds. Mallard and his staff witnessed the storm firsthand from their Florida headquarters in Lakeland. Mallard said he and his staff aren't too busy with the cold, hard facts to see the emotional toll the storm has taken on aircraft owners. "You have a lot of people who have put years into restoring or building these aircraft and all it takes is a few seconds and they're gone," he said. "There have been a lot of losses."
There are also some cruel ironies. Mallard said many airplane owners rushed to move their aircraft to "safer" areas only to have the storm shift suddenly eastward and put them in harm's way. Others found hangar space for aircraft usually left outside only to have the hangars collapse. Some owners weren't about to surrender to Charley without a fight. Greg Sterling, of AOPA Insurance Agency, said one of his staff heard of a married couple that "rode out the storm" in the hangar with their beloved Grumman. He said both the hangar and plane were slightly damaged but the owners were thankfully unharmed. Mallard said he believes there must have been tornadoes embedded in the storm to cause the level of structural damage he saw, including virtually new hangars reduced to scrap metal. Aircraft damage varied from cowl damage from pushed-in hangar doors to planes that were virtually unrecognizable. Those in the collapsed hangars pose a special challenge. Mallard noted that some hangared planes are unscathed but are surrounded by the wreckage of both the hangar and other aircraft. "The question is, how do you get them out?" said Mallard.
Brimming with empathy, many of us would yet be lying if we didn't admit to wondering what this far-away (for a lot of us, anyway) disaster might do to our insurance rates. The quick answer is probably not much. Sterling (of AOPA) said he doubts there will be any directly related rate increases because the year so far has been better than average for claims. Both Mallard (of Falcon/EAA) and Lauerman (of Avemco) expect a slight increase in rates as a direct result of the Charley-related claims. "Don't forget, we anticipate things like this when we set our rates," said Lauerman. Retail-level carriers take out policies -- called re-insurance -- with international insurers against these types of catastrophes. "It spreads the risk," said Lauerman. In fact, Avemco has adjusters traveling from airport to airport. In a few cases, owners might hear from their insurance company first about damage to their planes. "A lot of people are busy dealing with damage to their homes and cars and haven't been out to the airport yet," said Lauerman. When the time comes to meet with the adjuster, make sure you have as much of your airplane's documentation with you as possible so the insurer can accurately assess the value of the loss. And Mallard says you can expect prompt and courteous settling of the claim. "The insurance companies are all really good," said Mallard. "They're not going to nickel-and-dime you."
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Government warnings aside, there still are some people using airplanes for some very good things. Take, for instance, the King Air Foundation. Although the foundation's primary purpose is to commemorate the "world's most successful" business/commuter turboprop, and in particular the original aircraft used by Olive Beech, the foundation is planning a round-the-world trip to raise money for spinal-cord research and children's medical charities. Organizer Alex Major, who owns that original King Air, said flying it around the world is also "intended to spread goodwill for general aviation around the world." Actor Morgan Freeman has agreed to fly one leg of the journey and more celebrity pilots will be announced over the next year before the flight commences next fall. Major, who bought the plane in 1985, said it would be donated to an unspecified museum after the flight.
Now, not all fundraising flights are carried out in cabin-class comfort, nor are their causes quite so mainstream. Dr. Edwin Galkin and Capt. Richard Sollner returned home to Manville, N.J., on Aug. 14 after a 27,500-mile circumnavigation in a Cessna 210. This was their second trip around the world in aid of sufferers of a disease that most of us have never heard of and affects only 400 people in the whole world. Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) is a nasty disorder in which muscle is converted to bone if it's injured in any way. "Trauma, surgery, bumps, falls and intra-muscular injections can result in explosive new bone growth," according to the Flight For the Cure Web site. "Any attempt to remove the extra bone accelerates the FOP process." Dr. Galkin and Sollner had hoped to raise money for every mile flown but there was no word on how much was raised.
Mounting a round-the-world flight for charity takes organization, up-front funding, pilots and, of course, an airplane. Or does it? Some enterprising do-gooders in Sutton, England, have been circling the globe without ever leaving the ground. Using a homebuilt flight simulator, World Flight volunteers take the controls over a period of about a week in a virtual circumnavigation that raises money for Dreamflight, a group that takes seriously ill children to Florida theme parks for vacations. The next "trip" (flown by virtual pilots from all walks of life) leaves England Nov. 8 for a 35,000-mile journey that ends Nov. 14. One of the great things about World Flight is that there's no need to have a pilot certificate to take part. Volunteer "pilots" include truck drivers and business managers. Apparently some airline pilots also take part.
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With NBC's abortive attempt at undercover security breaches last week, the mainstream media is again casting about for GA security stories and (possibly to their discomfort) finding that security is better at small airports than it was a few years ago. The Burlington Times (near Philadelphia) took a look at the Flying W Airport and found perimeter fencing, security cameras and regular after-hours patrols by local sheriffs but still managed to work in a quote from the 9-11 Commission report that "major vulnerabilities still exist in cargo and general aviation security." Unfortunately for pilots, the illusion of security takes many forms (and often seems to have been granted higher value than "practical" security). One reader wrote to tell us that, in advance of the Republican National Convention in New York later this month, aircraft owners based at nearby Republic Airport on Long Island are being ordered to chain their planes to a big cable that has been strung through the tie-downs. (Perhaps learning to fly an airplane is easier than buying a hacksaw.) Even in commercial aviation, where X-rays, bomb sniffers and the occasional strip search are the norm, U.S. lawmakers are worried it's not enough. Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson was on the hot seat at a Senate hearing last week trying to explain why only one in 20 domestic flights have air marshals aboard. He was also quizzed on why those few marshals have a dress code so strict that they stand out painfully in the casually dressed crowd aboard most airliners.
One of the keys to mixing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with general air traffic is the ability of the drone to recognize and avoid unexpected traffic on its own. These Sense and Avoid (S&A) systems must be able to work on any and all aircraft because not everything flying has the transponders necessary for the TCAS-type systems. The first step in achieving this lofty technological goal has been made but we're probably a few years away from a certified system. According to UVonline.com, a group of industry representatives organized by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the international standards organization, have come up with the technical and performance standards that would be required for such a system. If you're willing to spend $27 (we weren't) you can download a copy of the standards from the ASTM. According to UVonline.com, we could see these devices in manned aircraft as well in the future.
A BRAND NEW AIRCRAFT FOR THE COST OF A SECOND CAR!
Although we lament, and sometimes joke, about the snail's pace of technological advances in aviation sometimes, there have been some revolutionary advances that have become universally accepted in a relatively short time. GPS navigation has to be considered among them and one of the key players in its development is retiring. Gary L. Burrell is stepping aside as co-chairman and director of Garmin Ltd. "Over the past 15 years, I have had the rare and gratifying opportunity to help build a great organization whose products have helped improve the safety of aviation," Burrell said in a statement. Burrell and Dr. Min H. Kao formed Garmin in 1989. Dr. Kao, who was co-chairman with Burrell, takes over as chairman and CEO. Burrell has been appointed chairman emeritus. Two new directors have been appointed, bringing the total to six. They are Clifton A. Pemble and Charles W. Peffer.
Industry groups have lined up in opposition to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) they say will needlessly cost 22,000 companies money to have their employees tested for drugs. In formal comments to the FAA on the NPRM, the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) says the FAA seriously underestimated the impact of the proposed rule when it said only 297 companies would be affected. "Thirteen aviation industry groups and companies endorsed ARSA's comments and joined as signatories," according to ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod. "The aviation world is clearly united in opposition to this unnecessary, costly and misguided FAA proposal." According to ARSA, the proposed rule would require non-certificated maintenance subcontractors (NCMS) working for FAA-certificated repair stations to participate in an FAA-approved drug- and alcohol-screening program if the articles in question are ultimately installed on air carrier aircraft. NCMS companies provide everything from dry cleaning to metal-finishing services but are not certificated to sign off, as airworthy, any of the work they do. ARSA maintains that there are plenty of safeguards in place to prevent drug- and alcohol-related problems from affecting proper maintenance and safety standards through licensed repair stations.
NON-OWNER (RENTER) PILOTS EXPOSED: PILOTS ARE HELD FINANCIALLY LIABLE
Eleven TFRs will "disappear" over military installations over the next few months but that doesn't mean sightseers will be welcome in the future. According to AOPA, the TFRs are among 13 that were thrown up over important military bases immediately after 9/11. The Defense Department had wanted to make them permanent prohibited airspace but the FAA ruled against that in 11 of the 13 cases. The TFR designation will be removed on those 11 sites in favor of a National Security Area (NSA) designation that politely requests that civilian aircraft stay away voluntarily. The FAA does seem to think there's reason to permanently close the airspace (to civilians) over two military bases, however. Notices of Proposed Rulemaking to prohibit air traffic over bases in Bangor, Wash., and St Mary's, Ga., have been published and AOPA is opposing them. AOPA is particularly concerned about the impact of the proposed Bangor closure on floatplane traffic on the nearby Hood Canal. The other 11 TFRs will be turned into NSAs as new sectional charts are published. The first change occurs at Anniston, Ala., on Sept. 2.
And you think your airport's got trouble with the neighbors ... The Navy says it won't give up its effort to establish a 30,000-acre base in North Carolina even though a federal judge has stopped it, temporarily at least, from buying up the necessary land. Judge Terrence Boyle turned down the Navy's request to keep acquiring land while opponents of the project challenge it in court. Navy spokesman Ted Brown told the Associated Press the decision was a disappointment but the Navy "will continue to pursue our case and we expect a favorable resolution." The facility, which would include an 8,000-foot runway and support buildings, will be used by Navy pilots to practice carrier landings. Opponents say the base will jeopardize a nearby wildlife refuge and harm the local tourism- and agriculture-based economy. They also claim that Navy pilots will be at risk from bird strikes. About 70 families would be displaced by the base. Boyle ordered work halted on the project in April in response to suits by environmental groups and the two counties whose land it would occupy.
IF YOUR CELL PHONE CAN SURF THE NET, IT CAN RECEIVE AVIATION WEATHER
The FAA will test solar-powered taxiway edge lights this winter with an eye to approving them as an alternative to costly hard-wired systems. The lights, made by Carmanah Technologies Corp., of Victoria, B.C., Canada, will be installed at various airports to see if they can do the job of the regular systems. If they can, they might be a cost-effective alternative for more than 5,000 airports that don't have lights...
The pilot of a cargo plane that went down in Kentucky can't remember what happened in the final moments of the flight. The Air Tahoma Convair 580 crashed on a golf course about a mile from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport last Friday. The unidentified pilot survived with minor injuries but the co-pilot was killed...
Owners of Rotax 912F, 912S and 914F engines will get new oil dipsticks for the engines as part of an Airworthiness Directive issued by the FAA. The AD supersedes an earlier order concerning venting of the valve train. Comments will be received until Oct. 12.
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.
IMPROVE AND STRENGTHEN YOUR VISION NATURALLY WITHOUT THE RISK OR EXPENSE OF LASER SURGERY
Do we really have to sit still and take a pounding when an intense hurricane comes ashore? Or is it time to do something creative, like get out of the way?
Say Again? #40: Outside Looking In
After years trying to convince pilots and controllers to adopt safer habits, AVweb's Don Brown is feeling beaten down and jaded. He's quite ready to retire. By chance, he recently attended two events that lifted his spirits and gave him a bit more faith in humanity and aviation, and he tells the tale in this month's "Say Again" column.
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COMPLIMENTARY WEEK OF ADVERTISING ON ASO!
Last week, AVweb asked our readers to speculate about the new Light Sport Aircraft category specifically, how well will it hold up once there's a highly-publicized accident involving an LSA? Would such an accident mark the end of the new cateogory? No way, say AVweb readers at least 240 of you (68% of our respondents) said that LSA could endure some negative publicity. A mere 22 respondents (6%) said Yes, it'll be big trouble (or possibly the end) for LSA. The remaining 26% of respondents agreed with our statement You think the country is divided about the Presidency, just wait until an LSA has a mid-air with a larger GA aircraft then you'll see divided!
This week, in the wake of Hurricane Charley, AVweb wants to hear about your aircraft insurance? When it comes to airplane insurance, what's in your wallet?
Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This address is only for suggested QOTW questions, and not for QOTW answers.
OPEN YOUR OWN ONLINE STORE IN THE MALL AT PILOT JOURNEY
Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions
Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners
Weirdest "Picture of the Week" contest ever or, at least, the weirdest one in while. You see, we normally sift through the week's entries without looking at your names, locations, or comments. This keeps the process fair and anonymous. As we go through the photos, we separate them into four categories:
We then go through the first three categories, reading comments and coming up with a potential line-up of four or five possible winners. Once we've got a solid line-up, we peek at the names.
That's how we did it this week and the top photos all came from recent "POTW" winners! We hemmed and hawed, but well, they're terrific photos! Too terrific to keep to ourselves, so here goes it's our "Picture of the Week" All-Stars Show!
Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.
copyright © Robert Burns
"Jack Rouch's P-51D in Chuck Yeager's Markings Climbs Out"
Robert Burns of Mauckport, Indiana was last week's second-place winner;
he returns this week with a photo that just had to receive first place
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.
"A Real Wingman"
And Lacey Hartje of Redmond, Washington was last week's first-place winner!
In a weird turn of events, he makes a return engagement this week with a photo
taken at the recent Abbotsford International Air Show in Canada
copyright © G.J.
"Base to Final Arlington"
G.J. Robinson of Lake Forest Park, Washington was not
a contender last week but boy, was he ever this week!
This photo was taken at the Arlington Airshow on June 17.
There are only supposed to be three "POTW" winners
but we'll slip you an extra picture if you promise not to turn us in ...
Used with permission of John R. Fierro
"Front Wheel Ejection"
This one's from John R. Fierro of Flower Mound, Texas.
Shown is a Swift Glider being towed at the recent U.S. Hang Gliding Nationals.
"Notice the front wheel being dropped while the rear tire is stowed manually,"
writes John. (We've had lots of great Hang Gliding Nationals photos,
but alas, this is the first to see print in "POTW"!)
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.
AVflash is a twice-weekly summary of the latest aviation news, articles, products, features and events featured on AVweb, the Internet's Aviation Magazine and News Service. http://www.avweb.com
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