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Volume 10, Number 39b -- September 23, 2004

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This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... JA Air Center

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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's NewsWire.

THE GAO TAKES A LOOK AT THE FAA
The FAA has made some progress in improving the computer systems and software that Air Traffic Control relies on, the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released this week. But some areas still need improvement. The GAO said it found that projects now underway were, in general, technically strong but weak in management and fiscal oversight. The report recommends that the FAA create a plan for "implementing and overseeing process-improvement initiatives." Without a strong commitment to improve, the report concludes, the FAA will continue to suffer from cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls. More...

...AS AUSTRALIAN AIRSPACE CHANGES IN FLUX...
Meanwhile, the rocky implementation of a new Air Traffic Control system in Australia is getting even rockier. On Tuesday, the dispute over the rules went to Federal Court, and outside the courtroom a blindfolded air traffic controller and the brother of a man who died in a plane crash in July met with reporters. The two, along with Dick Smith, the former head of the Australian Civil Aviation Authority, say that lives will be at risk if the country goes ahead with its plan to reverse the safety rules that took effect last year. Smith, who helped to draft the rules, has said the reversal, set to take effect on Nov. 25, will delay equipment upgrades at smaller airports and plunge air services back into the 1930s. For now, it seems things will get interesting on the 27th. More...

...AND SAFETY IN DANGER OF BEING LOST IN THE NOISE
Australia's AOPA, the Australian Sport Aviation Confederation and Recreational Aviation Australia have sided with Smith in the debate, saying that a report cited to support reversing the airspace reforms is "dangerously flawed," exaggerates risk, maligns the skills of small-aircraft pilots and fails to establish that the reforms are unsafe. Meanwhile, the Australian and International Pilots Association and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots have jointly called for the reforms to be reversed. Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon has urged the dueling parties to find a solution. "A lot of people are taking very, very strong positions on this, there's a lot of politics behind it and I think it would be nice if we could sit down and get it done properly," Dixon told The Australian. More...

POWERLINK™ FADEC CERTIFIED ON LIBERTY XL-2; IS IT RIGHT FOR YOUR AIRCRAFT?
Congratulations to Liberty Aerospace on becoming the first certified piston-powered aircraft with PowerLink™ FADEC as standard equipment.  PowerLink™ FADEC is now also available for several additional certified and experimental aircraft, including the A-36 Bonanza and VANS RV series.  Find out how you can bring your aircraft into the state-of-the-art at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tcm/fadec/avflash.

TROUBLE AT THE NTSB
Three members of the NTSB have signed a letter to Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners telling her they are not happy with policies she is enforcing that restrict their travel, prevent them from hiring staff and stifle them from talking with NTSB staff and the media. The board members -- Carol Carmody, Richard Healing and Deborah Hersman -- said they want freedom to speak with whomever they want. "It is crucial that board members be able to work directly with professional staff and have access to their expertise," they wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the St. Petersburg Times. The members also said they are concerned that Engleman Conners' effort to settle many of the board's long-standing safety recommendations in too many cases means settling for "lesser actions" that fail to address the original concerns. More...

...AND EXPRESS CONCERNS ABOUT INFLUENCE
Engleman Conners did not respond to the Times story, but an NTSB spokesman said the chairman hopes that "board members will continue to focus on the important mission of the board rather than on bureaucratic distractions." The board and Engleman Conners are scheduled to meet in late October to discuss the issues under dispute, according to Monday's International Herald Tribune. The Tribune also said that board members' concerns include whether Engleman Conners is too chummy with the agencies that the board oversees and too susceptible to influence from the White House. A memo from Engleman Conners to the board said their concerns had already been addressed, the Tribune said, a response that Carmody described as "disappointing." More...

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DIAMOND STAR LOSES DOOR IN FLIGHT
When something went "whoomp" outside a home in Hartselle, Ala., last Saturday, it turned out to be the door off an airplane. This week, it was identified as the door from a Diamond Star based at nearby Rountree Airport; the plane landed safely after the incident. Jeff Owen, a spokesman for Diamond Aircraft, confirmed yesterday that the door had come off in flight, and it's not the first time. "It's happened several times," he told AVweb, and he added that the only way it can occur is if the door is not properly latched. "There are two monstrous pins that secure that door, and a system that will tell the pilot, with an audio warning and a light on the panel, if the door is unlatched," he said. He stressed that the system has one known flaw -- the pilot has to close the door and secure the latch for it to work. (Not that they're pointing fingers.) More...

CIRRUS CHUTE DEPLOYED FOR FOURTH SAVE
The pilot and passenger in a Cirrus SR22 escaped injury on Sunday afternoon when they activated their ballistic chute and ... arrived ... in a walnut tree near Stockton, Calif. The pilot, William Graham, 65, and his wife, Barbara, 64, were en route to San Diego from Redding. Preliminary reports say the aircraft encountered turbulence at about 14,000 feet and entered a spin. Graham turned off the engine and deployed the chute. "The plane was intact," local fire chief Vic Solari told The Record. "There was a huge, orange-and-white parachute attached to the plane. ... It's just unreal. ... I was just amazed." William Graham is a certified flight instructor who has been flying for 25 years, the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune reported yesterday. More...

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LITTLE AIRPLANES FIGHT FOR RIGHTS
It's not legal to discriminate against small aircraft while giving all the breaks to jets -- that's the argument of three tenants at McClellan-Palomar Airport, near Carlsbad, Calif., who are about to be evicted so a developer can build 19 new jet hangars. A complaint filed with the FAA last month by the Pacific Coast Flyers Club, the owner of a pilot-supply shop and a retired airline pilot says the new lease was improperly handled by the county. The project will leave 150 small aircraft homeless with nowhere to go, resulting in "Prohibited Economic Discrimination," according to the complaint. Demolition of the old buildings is set for Oct. 1. More...

MORE (LESS TOLERANT) REACTION TO TSA ALIEN TRAINING RULE
As AVweb reported Monday, the TSA has issued a new rule about background checks for foreign flight students, and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association welcomed it as fair and balanced. But on Tuesday, AOPA published its own analysis of the rule, and found it wanting. "It applies unnecessary training and burdensome recordkeeping requirements to every flight school and every single flight instructor, whether or not they're training foreign students," AOPA President Phil Boyer said in a news release. "If that's really TSA's intent, they've gone too far." AOPA said it's talking to the TSA to clarify the intent and applicability of the rule, while AOPA's legal and regulatory experts continue a line-by-line analysis of the document. More...

RISK MANAGEMENT IS AN AREA OF AVIATION INSURANCE OFTEN OVERLOOKED
when purchasing aircraft hull and liability insurance.  CS&A Aviation Insurance specialists excel in risk management, which in turn gives their customers — you — the best insurance package for their individual needs.  Owner or renter, shop around and you'll find CS&A meets your insurance needs at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/csa/avflash.

UNDECIDEDS, LET GA SWING YOUR VOTE
Anyone who is still uncertain whether to cast a vote for President Bush or John Kerry can check out AOPA Pilot's October issue to read up on their views about general aviation ... but it's pretty tough to discern much difference in their responses. The strongest distinction we could find was in regard to the air traffic control system. Is privatization on the agenda? Mr. Bush's response could be interpreted as hedging a bit: "FAA Administrator [Marion] Blakey has said that the administration has no plans to privatize the air traffic control system." Kerry's language is a bit more direct: "I oppose privatizing the air traffic control system." More...

SPACEDEV ANNOUNCES SPACE PROGRAM
SpaceDev, a California company that has provided components to Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne, has started its own project to develop a reusable, piloted, suborbital spaceship. SpaceDev is not aiming for the X Prize, but says it is looking at a long-term program that could be scaled up to transport passengers to and from low earth orbit, including the International Space Station. The "SpaceDev Dream Chaser" would take off vertically and glide back to earth for a horizontal runway landing. "This project is one small step for SpaceDev, but could evolve into one giant leap for affordable, commercial human space flight," said CEO Jim Benson in a news release on Monday. More...

MARV GOLDEN'S END-OF-SUMMER SIZZLIN' SPECIALS
Marv Golden, the pilot's choice in all things aviation, is offering the following specials through September 30th: Purchase any Vertex VXA-210 Transceiver and receive an aviation headset at no additional cost; or purchase any David Clark H10-13 or 20-10 Series headset and receive a complimentary Sony airline cabin headset. See these and many other bargains at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/marvgold/avflash.

OTHER USES FOR YOUR HELICOPTER
Helicopter pilots have discovered all kinds of useful, and profitable, niches for their flying machines, but New Zealand farmers may be popularizing a new use for the big eggbeaters -- they can help keep their precious grape vines warm at night. Many of the vineyards on the South Island are tucked into valleys and slopes where a gentle airflow prevents frost from forming. But on the plains of Marlborough, according to The Nelson Mail, late winter can bring overnight inversions that trap cold air near the surface and ruin the delicate vines with frost. The solution -- hire a helicopter or two to beat about all night long and mix up that atmosphere. Apparently, if a vineyard has $120,000 worth of grapes at risk, paying $4,000 or so for a night of wind-whacking makes sense. More...

ON THE FLY...
Proposed AD affects some New Piper aircraft with turbochargers...
Lake Tahoe contract tower to close Oct. 1; city cites budget crunch...
Hurricane Jeanne is growing stronger and heading close to Florida...
"Oshkosh 2004" premieres tonight on Discovery Wings channel...
JFK Jr.'s 1977 Cessna Skylane online auction starts Nov. 10...
Delta Air Lines and pilots agreed to let retired crew return...
Save Concorde Group said petition has reached target of 20,000...
Updated Concorde for Flight Simulator 2002/2004 due Oct. 29. More...

RENO, 2004
If you missed Reno, or just don't know what that means, click through for AVweb's Expanded Reno coverage (an updated Reno wrap-up and extended image galleries). Enjoy...

INNOVATION — IT'S THE KEY BEHIND NARCO'S NEW DIGITAL TRANSPONDER AT165
Narco Avionics, building on the tradition of the AT150 — the industry's workhorse ATC transponder — has introduced the all-new AT165, with some very exciting and innovative features. Narco's AT165 is competitively priced with some of the current popular manual transponders. Seeing is believing at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/narco/avflash.

AVWEB'S NEWSTIPS ADDRESS ...
Drop us a line. Heard something that 130,000 pilots might want to know about? If it caught your eye, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com. More...

NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
________
TRAINING
The Cessna, The Sky ... and the Cartoonist: Chapters Two and Three
Our intrepid student aviator and artist, John Ewing, continues his flight training and is hit with academic work that challenges his semi-retired brain. Attitude flying, however, is a bit more intuitive, although we catch him making engine noises in a silent airplane.

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WHAT'S NEW
What's New -- Products and Services
This month, AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you charts for PDAs, EFIS, autopilot interfaces, videos, survival knifes and more.

More...

AVWEB'S BUSINESS AVFLASH
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb’s NO-COST twice monthly Business AVflash? Reporting on breaking news, Business AVflash also focuses on the companies, the products and the industry leaders that make headlines in the Business of Aviation. Business AVflash is a must read. Watch for a Business AVflash regular feature, TSA WATCH: GA IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/ More...

COMPLIMENTARY WEEK OF ADVERTISING ON ASO!
Selling your aircraft?  Advertise it on Aircraft Shopper Online (ASO) for four weeks and get an additional week compliments of ASO.  Your ad includes six photos, full specs, and a selling paragraph highlighting your bird's best features.  Take advantage of this limited-time offer today:  Call ASO at (888) 992-9276 and mention this AVflash, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/aso/avflash.

AVWEB'S QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, we'd like to know a little bit about how and where you prefer to get your regular dose of AVweb. Do you rely on our AVflash newsletter, read the NewsWire on AVweb.com, or use some combination of the two? Chime in with your reading preferences and help us out! More...

AOPA'S STEVE ELLS RATES MIKE BUSCH'S OWNER SEMINAR "INVALUABLE" ...
Steve Ells, AOPA Pilot's West Coast Editor and a career A&P/IA, recently attended Mike Busch's "Savvy Owner Seminar" in Seattle.  Here's what Steve had to say: "Mike Busch has a wealth of knowledge and can save you a ton of money on maintenance while keeping your airplane safe and ready for stress-free flying.  I found his seminar invaluable — and I'm an A&P!"  Mike will be giving just two more seminars this year: One in Albany, NY the weekend of October 2-3 and the other in Long Beach, CA on October 24-25 (immediately following AOPA Expo).  You'll need to register pronto to get in on either of these seminars, so visit http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/savvy/avflash.

AVWEB'S PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
Every once in a while, a theme emerges from your photo submissions without any stretch of the imagination on our part. This week's clear theme was "skylines" — more specifically, skylines and stormfronts. Would you believe that one out of every four "POTW" entries was a skyline photo? C'mon, 'fess up — you guys got together and planned this, didn't you? ... Fine, just sit there and stare — we're on to you, and we'll catch you before this is all over. In the meantime, take a look at three of the best horizon photos — plus one extra pic, just for good measure. More...

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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DOES YOUR AIRCRAFT HAVE A SENSITIVE DIGITAL CO MONITOR?
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FLYING MAGAZINE RECAPS AIRVENTURE, TAKES A LOOK AT THE CIRRUS SR22-G2,
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THROW AWAY THAT OLD BULKY FLIGHT BAG FOR A NEW ALL-LEATHER BACKPACK
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THE TURBINE PILOT'S FLIGHT MANUAL HAS ALL JET & TURBO PROP ESSENTIALS
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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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Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#mgrady
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