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December 29, 2004

NewsWire Complete Issue

By The AVweb Editorial Staff
This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ...
Piedmont Hawthorne Aircraft Sales

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Changes Due For Airspace And FSS...

New Year, New Rules

With a new year right around the corner, the landscape of aviation is about to experience some changes. Workers at the FAA's Flight Service Stations are awaiting a decision, expected in January, on who will run their operations in the future. Air traffic controllers may soon suffer the pangs of "Be careful what you wish for," as the FAA sends hundreds of new hires into their facilities. And for those who fly in the flight levels, Domestic Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums take effect on Jan. 20. The FAA says the added routes between Flight Levels 280 and 410 will save time and money, but many GA operators are skeptical. Nonetheless, they must upgrade their equipment and complete all the paperwork to become RVSM compliant, or resign themselves to flying at FL280 or lower. The option exists also to transit the RVSM airspace and fly en route above FL410, but how that will work out in practice remains to be seen. Not far behind the new airspace rules, turbine aircraft that can carry six or more passengers will need to comply with new rules to have a Terrain Awareness and Warning System installed -- that deadline is March 30.

...As Space Barrier Crumbles

The X Prize was just the beginning. Thanks to Mojave Aerospace Ventures, spaceships are now part of the GA world. The BBC News reported on Monday that Virgin Galactic's fleet of five spaceships, to be built by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, will have luxury accommodations for up to eight passengers and will be capable of about one flight per day. Plans call for a cabin height of 6 feet and width of 7 feet, the BBC said, with fully reclining seats to help even elderly passengers cope with the six G's expected during phases of the ... trip. Passengers will be free to float in the cabin, and use the time as they please, Rutan told the BBC -- whether that's to look at the window, conduct a science experiment, play with a cat, or, if a couple wanted to buy out the whole ship and use that time for personal ... recreation ... that's fine with Rutan, too ... provided they're quick about it. The ships will reach about 87 miles (about 25 miles higher than SpaceShipOne) and allow for an extra 90 seconds of weightlessness. "This experience is going to have very few restrictions on what you can do because these payloads are doing it for fun and every person has a different idea of what fun is," Rutan told the BBC. "You have bought the ride, you paid for it." Virgin Galactic expects the seats to cost about $190,000 apiece. The company says it will open for business early in 2005, though it may not start operating spaceflights until 2007.

When new, these headsets listed for $599. Now you can purchase reconditioned 25XLs for $350 and receive complimentary UPS Ground domestic shipping through December 31. These headsets come from pilots who have upgraded to LightSPEED Thirty 3G headsets. All have new seals, pads, and are upgraded to current factory specifications. Plus, they are backed by LightSPEED's 30-day money-back guarantee, one-year warranty, and LightSPEED's emphasis on customer service and satisfaction. For more information, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/litspeed/r25xls/avflash.

New Aircraft Update...

Epic "On Time And On Budget"

Rick Schramek of Epic Aircraft told AVweb on Tuesday that the Epic Jet prototype is about 85 percent complete. "The T-tail and the nacelles are on, and the nosecone goes on in January," he said. "About 75 percent of it is the same as the LT, so that makes it easier. We'll probably fly it in June." The LT is Epic's six-seat turboprop Malibu-killer that debuted at Oshkosh last summer, a year after the design was announced. Epic also is building a new 100,000-square-foot factory at Bend, Ore., that will be ready in April, and a jet facility is in the works at Redmond Airport, Schramek said. He said the Epic LT is undergoing flight testing now, and the first customer delivery is set for February. That first airplane will be flown in the Experimental category, but FAA certification is in the works. "We're still on time and on budget," Schramek said. Workers from the Georgia Republic are in Bend now, he said, being trained on the composite work. They will fabricate parts in Georgia, but the airplane will be assembled in the U.S. Schramek added that he has 42 orders for the LT, with five currently under construction, but isn't talking yet about orders for the jet. The jet may debut with a 35-knot (and $150,000) ... improvement ... over the LT -- along with a superior fuel burn. He said he expects to deliver the first jet in December 2005.

...Adam Propeller Passes Test

Hartzell Propeller Inc. announced on Tuesday that its blended-airfoil propeller system for the Adam Aircraft A500 centerline-twin has passed the final hurdle for certification on the aircraft. A recent FAA regulation requires all new pusher-propeller installations, such as the aft propeller on the Adam A500, to ingest airframe ice shed during an inadvertent icing encounter without causing a hazardous condition, Hartzell said. The newly designed test used a compressed-gas gun at the University of Dayton Impact Physics Lab to shoot softball-sized ice balls at the propeller at speeds up to 520 miles per hour. This test simulated a long section of wing-leading-edge ice striking the propeller blade at the most critical position, angle and velocity, Hartzell said. The propeller passed the test, making the A500 the first production aircraft to have passed such a test. In October 2004, Adam Aircraft was expecting the first customer deliveries of its A500 push/pull twin before the end of the year.

"They blow my RayBans out of the water!" says private pilot Jason Downs. A pair of Scheydens will be given away every other week to a lucky AVweb subscriber, with a retail value up to $395!  The unique flip-up design has become the #1 choice of pilots who demand quality and function. Scheydens are handmade of Titanium (Ti) frames with quality lenses.  A Rosewood case and plush micro-fiber cleaning cloth are standard equipment.  For information and to register to win, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/scheyden/avflash.

Flying For Charity...

Fly For Humanity

It's that time of year for reflecting on what we've achieved with a year's worth of time on earth, and maybe making resolutions that in the year to come will make us better citizens of the world. For those so endowed and those so inclined, aviation offers plenty of opportunities to help out. Angel Flight America Network recruits volunteer pilots to provide air transport for needy medical patients and their families. Air Care Alliance offers an extensive listing of varied volunteer opportunities in aviation, for both pilots and non-pilots. And if your empathies extend beyond fellow humans to your fellow creatures, SkyArk needs pilots to help transport animals and wildlife, or you could fly environmental missions for LightHawk.

...Or Fly For Your Country

You can also volunteer to fly for homeland security and disaster relief efforts. Civil Air Patrol pilots fly those missions, as well as search-and-rescue and counterdrug reconnaissance. They transport medical personnel and supplies, and in times of disaster, they assess damage and transport emergency personnel from site to site. The CAP owns the largest fleet of single-engine piston aircraft in the nation. Volunteer pilots for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary also fly search-and-rescue, and they help to monitor fishing areas, patrol for ice, and support efforts to protect marine resources, such as coping with oil spills. Check with each organization for its standards for pilots to qualify.

Send one print issue per month and full access to the Trade-A-Plane web site for just $14.95 for one year, or $24.95 for two years. To subscribe, call (800) 337-5263 and mention this AVflash. Be sure to mention if it's a gift and Trade-A-Plane will send a gift card notifying the recipient. Or order online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/tap/avflash.

To Visit AVweb's Holiday Shopping Page

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Tower And Airport A Fatal Mix

Local pilots at Fullerton (Calif.) Municipal Airport have complained for years that a 760-foot-tall radio tower just a mile and a half from a runway is a hazard, the Los Angeles Times reported last week. On Dec. 19, a Cessna 182 hit the tower at about 9:45 a.m. and crashed into a warehouse parking lot. Jim and Mary Ghosoph, both 51, died. The orange and white tower, built in 1947, is owned by Clear Channel Communications, and is used to broadcast a local AM radio station. Pilots had long lobbied for strobe lights to be added to the structure, and in 2001, both of Fullerton's airport advisory committees asked the radio station managers to add strobes. The tower is difficult to see even in clear weather due to all the ground clutter in the area, according to local pilots. The current radio-station manager told the Times the tower had all the lighting it was required to have, and he was unaware of any complaints from pilots.

FAA Releases Revised Flight Plan

The FAA last week released its annual revision of its Flight Plan -- the agency's strategic plan for the next five years, originally published in 2003. The plan sets the agency's priorities -- increased safety, greater capacity, international leadership and organizational excellence. The revision reflects input gleaned from almost 1,000 comments and suggestions, about 80 percent of them from employees and the rest from various stakeholders, the FAA said. The plan also lists the FAA's achievements for 2004, which include reduced GA accidents, especially in Alaska; a reduction in serious runway incursions; certifying the first receiver for the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and its first "virtual" public meeting. "Our goal was to develop a tighter, more disciplined Flight Plan with improved performance targets, fewer initiatives, and a plan that is more responsive to the entire aerospace community," said FAA Administrator Marion Blakey. The FAA also listed as a major achievement its first "virtual" public rulemaking meeting, held in March in reference to the contentious air-tour rules -- an event that was met with a less than enthusiastic response from many in the GA world, who wanted to confront the rulemakers face to face. The FAA also congratulated itself that there were no injuries to the public during commercial space launch operations. Yup.

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DOT To Investigate U.S. Airways, Comair Troubles

The airlines had a rough holiday weekend, coping with winter storms, computer crashes, and staff shortages, and now they're facing the fallout, including a federal investigation. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta wants to know why regional airline Comair, a subsidiary of Delta, didn't have a backup plan when its scheduling software crashed over the weekend, grounding about 1,100 flights and stranding thousands of passengers. Mineta also wants the investigation to come up with an explanation for US Airways' cancellation of hundreds of flights over the same long weekend, when about triple the usual number of flight attendants, baggage handlers and ramp workers called in sick. "It is important that the Department and the traveling public understand what happened, why it happened, and whether the carriers properly planned for the holiday travel period and responded appropriately to consumer needs in the aftermath," Mineta said. Union officials said the sick calls at US Airways were not an organized job action. Yesterday, Comair was working to get back to a full schedule, and is already working to replace the old computer system, which it said should take a few months.

Sport Pilot Practical Test Standards Released

The FAA released its Practical Test Standards for Sport Pilots this week, and they are posted online. The standards are crucial to flight training. "Flight instructors need to know to what [the standards are] to train their students," said AOPA spokesman Rob Hackman in a statement yesterday. "Now that the practical test standards are available online, they can easily and quickly refer to them at any time." The practical test standards for sport pilot airplane, gyroplane, glider, airship, balloon, weight shift control, powered parachute, and flight instructor are available online at the FAA Web site. EAA has posted a sample database of test questions, both for pilots and for instructors. All of these documents could be updated and corrected as the sport pilot program progresses, AOPA said. The weight-shift control and powered parachute standards should be published sometime in January.

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Flight: See How It's Really Done

Most pilots have had the dream ... the one where gravity melts away, and you can lift both feet off the ground and fly like a bird. It's the ultimate in aviating, and while nobody yet has figured out exactly how to make it work for humans, you can get a taste of it at Discovery's bird-tech site, where video shots from tiny cameras attached to Tilly the golden eagle reveal every twist and turn of this most-sophisticated all-natural flight-management system. The technology is a step beyond what was used to film the movie, Winged Migration, released in 2001. To capture birds in flight in that film, those filmmakers followed them aloft using gliders, helicopters, balloons, remote-controlled model aircraft and ultralights. Five teams worked for three years, visiting seven continents. If you missed it in theaters, the film is now out on DVD.

New Year's Eve, Check NOTAMs Or Check Six

Yes, the election season is over, but TFRs are here to stay. This week, it's New York's celebration of New Year's Eve that is closing down airspace. Aircraft are banned below 4,000 feet above parts of Manhattan from 8 p.m. on Friday until 1 a.m. on Saturday, affecting operations at several heliports and a seaplane base (stay far away from the big shiny ball -- and read the full NOTAM here). TFRs are also expected above Los Angeles for New Year's and during the upcoming football bowl games. EAA noted last week that a recent report by the federal Government Accountability Office acknowledged the negative economic impact of TFRs on the GA industry, yet found that the FAA does not have a system in place for their periodic review. Instead, keeping continuing TFRs in force is based on "unspecified security reasons submitted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)," the report said. EAA also said the departure of Secretary Tom Ridge and Deputy Secretary James Loy at the TSA will mean that 2005 starts off with a period of transition, and implies that it will be tough to make much progress on any issues until new leadership is in place.

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On The Fly...

The Pentagon is planning sharp cuts in the F/A-22 Raptor fighter jet program, citing a budget crunch, The New York Times reported yesterday... AOPA's Win-A-Twin entry deadline is Friday at midnight... Need more Centennial of Flight souvenirs? Get 'em now, First Flight Store closes for good in January.

AVweb's Newstips Address ...

Drop us a line. If it caught your attention, it will probably interest someone else, too. Submit news tips via email to newstips@avweb.com.

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New Articles and Features on AVweb

Neither A Lender Nor A Borrower Be ... Non-Owner Pilots And Liability Insurance
If you borrow a friend's car, you're covered by their car insurance. But if you borrow their plane, you are probably not covered by their aircraft liability insurance. Same if you rent a plane from an FBO. Are you prepared to pay out tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars if there is an accident? AVweb's Kevin Garrison looks at insurance for those who don't own the plane they are flying.

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/

The new Cessna Flyer Association (CFA) provides parts locating, tech support, a monthly member magazine, online forums, national & regional events, an annual convention, seminars, and more.  For less than a tank of fuel ($39.00 for a one-year membership), you can access the needed information to expand your knowledge and get more enjoyment from owning and flying your Cessna aircraft.  Join the Cessna Flyer Association (CFA) today as they build the ultimate Cessna association. Go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/cfa/avflash.

AVweb's Question of the Week ...


Last week, AVweb pointed out that air traffic controllers have a mandatory retirement age of 56.  According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the retirement age reflects scientific data suggesting that there's a sharp decline in physical ability as controllers hit their mid-50s.  Given that pilots don't suffer mandatory retirement until age 60 (or 65, in some cases), AVweb asked if we could take this as a sign that ATC is a more physically demanding job than piloting (at least in the eyes of the regulators).

29% of those who responded thought the logic was good.  "Makes sense to me," they answered.

A tiny bit more of our readership (30%) said it didn't make sense.  Based on our statements and what these readers know about mandatory retirement ages, the logic just didn't add up.

But the majority of our readers (a full 41%) said there was definitely something fishy in our "logical deduction."

One reader (who went only by "Al") pointed out this bit of inescapable logic:

Maximum Entry Age [for Controllers] 31
25 Years of Service      + 25
Retirement Age 56


This week, AVweb wants to know if (and how often) you use WAAS approaches.

Click here to chime in.

Have an idea for a new QOTW? Send your suggestions to qotw@avweb.com.

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 Picture of the Week ...

Submit a Photo | Rules | Tips | Questions

Current POTW Winner | Past POTW Winners

It's the last week of 2004, and AVweb readers have settled in for their long winter's nap.  While we were dutifully wrapping presents, checking our lists, and eating giant hams, a handful of AVweb readers took time to share some of their best amateur aviation photos.  Let's have a look at the last of the 2004 pictures, starting with this week's baseball hat winner, Marty Tippin of Missouri.

Due to privacy issues, AVweb does not publish e-mail addresses of readers who submit photos.


copyright © Marty Tippin
Used with permission of Marty Tippin

Marty Tippin
of Lee's Summit, Missouri chills us
with this week's winning photo.  Following a 2002 ice storm in
Kansas City, "this Grumman AA-5 Traveler was sitting
on its tail from all the ice," writes Marty.

Click 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.

Used with permission of Bryon Stoll

"Christmas Eagle"
Bryon Stoll of New London, Wisconsin spent his
holidays at the EAA Air Museum in Oshkosh, where
he snapped this shot of one of the three Christen Eagles
flown by Pobererzny, Gene Soucy, and Charles Hilliard —
lit by holiday lights, natch!

Used with permission of Gary Dikkers

"Oshkosh — World's Busiest Tower During EAA AirVenture"
Speaking of Oshkosh and the EAA, here's an image
to warm you up and get you excited about the coming year.
Gary Dikkers
of Madison, Wisconsin sent us this
image of a team of 14 AT-6 Texans
framing the tower at AirVenture.
Ahhh, summer ... !

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.

Sponsor News and Special Offers

Access to AVweb and AVflash is provided by the support of our fine sponsors. We appreciate your patronage.

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Do you have friends or family flying in tonight?  A business colleague coming in for a meeting?  Will your partner get the airplane back before you need to take off?  Find out where in the U.S. and Canadian airspace they are with the AVweb Edition of Flight Explorer.  AVweb subscribers can sign up for Flight Explorer at a special price of $9.95 a month at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/flightexplorer/avflash.
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Summit Aviation's Computerized Aviation Reference Library saves you time and energy by keeping track of changes in hundreds of handbooks, advisory circulars, and FAA regulations — all on a single CD-ROM that organizes, formats, and makes information accessible! Updates are available from twice a year to every two weeks. SPECIAL: Complimentary U.S. shipping at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/summit/avflash.
Utah's Red Rock Country, Volume 1 is the first in a series of DVDs on back-country flying at its best. Experience firsthand the romance and freedom of flying the wide-open spaces of the American West. GIFT-GIVING SPECIAL: Order two DVDs and get the second at a 50% discount. Order today at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/outthere/avflash.
This CD from Sacramento SkyRanch comes gift-wrapped with a card for your personal message. Go online for more information and to order at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/skyranch/avflash.
911/The Album was played for the USS Nimitz crew. They requested 100 copies. This CD is stored in the 9/11 Digital Archives, and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani sent his praise to the composer, a retired commercial pilot. The album begins with the possible thoughts of the al Qaeda hijackers on their way to the airport and ends with an instrumental composition for meditation. Real jet engine spool-up sounds have been embedded in the song "Silver Wings," together with radio calls. This tragic event will never be forgotten, and 911/The Album will hold it in memories for generations. All songs/events are illustrated in full color, with words included in a 12-page booklet. Order your copy now at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/wishingwell/avflash.
Do you ever wonder why you lack confidence? Take a look at Gordon Henrie's Instructional Methods for Flight Instructors. Gordon takes lessons from 50 years of flying and tells how to be more capable and confident in your own flying and how to teach more effectively. This is not a question-and-answer book, but a guide to what you actually do and think when you are in the cockpit, and it tells you how to root out bad habits and techniques. Complimentary holiday gift-wrapping. Order at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/mountain/avflash.
VTS Inc.'s software is loaded with video presentations, sound, 3D animations, interactive system schematics, and simulations — all combined to create a virtual resource that far surpasses the pilot's aircraft information manual.  This learning tool comes to life with the click of your mouse.  For more information and ordering instructions, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/vts/avflash.
Then you went through the manual and came away frustrated and confused. Stop laboring to understand those manufacturers' manuals! For less than $40 (plus shipping and handling) you can better understand and operate most of the modern GPS units on the market with ZD Publishing's Pilot Friendly GPS Manuals. GPS operation is fun and rewarding when you understand how to get the desired results. These manuals will help you through all operations. Order at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/zdpub/avflash.
You've enjoyed Greg Brown's stories in Flight Training and AOPA Pilot.  Now read the book!  Join Greg in the cockpit of his Flying Carpet for the struggles, triumphs, and crazy adventures of a pilot as he matures from fledgling to seasoned aviator.  Not only will pilots love this book, but after reading it, your friends and family will finally understand why you fly.  AVweb EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Order your autographed copy at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/paperjet/avflash.
We Welcome Your Feedback!

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

Letters to the editor intended for publication in AVmail should be sent to mailto:editor@avweb.com.com. Have a comment or question? Send it to mailto:newsteam@avweb.com.

Today's issue written by News Writer Mary Grady:
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Fly it till everything stops.

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