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The Top Headlines From AVweb's Expanded,
Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
BOGS DOWN SPACE BUSINESS...
Burt Rutan may have conquered space but he's not so sure he can crack
space bureaucracy. The iconic aviation innovator gave legislators an
earful last week when he testified before the House Science
Committee's space subcommittee. If the government lets him, Rutan
envisions a franchise-like system for operators who want to
get into the "personal spaceflight" business, with strict controls
over equipment, operations and standards emanating from a head office.
Such a system could fill a surprisingly large "need" and put up to
100,000 people into suborbital weightlessness within 12 years. Virgin
Galactic, which is getting Rutan's Scaled Composites to
build spacecraft for its commercial operation, claims 29,000 people
have already offered to put up $20,000 deposits on $200,000 flights.
Rutan told the hearing that the regulatory process almost scuttled his
Paul Allen-financed bid to win the Ansari X Prize, which his team
accomplished last October. Although SpaceShipOne and White Knight bear
little resemblance to the classic booster/payload arrangement that has
typified space flight to date, under the FAA's new Office of
Commercial Space Transportation, according to Rutan, they get the same
treatment. Under those regs, the protection of the "non-involved
public" in the event of disaster is paramount. "It resulted in cost
overruns, increased risk for my test pilots, [and] did not reduce risk
to the non-involved public," he said. Rutan offered a solution.
UP FOR A PIECE OF THE ACTION
Of course, the spinoff from such an industry could be huge and the
maneuvering to capitalize on it has begun. According to the South
Florida Business Journal, at least 10 states, including Florida, are
trying to convince the new space tourism companies to choose them as
bases for their operations. The paper says the research firm of
Futron/Zogby surveyed 450 millionaires in 2003 and projected that
private space flight would become a $1 billion annual business, with
15,000 people seeing the black sky in 2021. But it's not just launch
sites and other infrastructure that will create wealth. After all,
what's the point of taking the most high-tech adventure available
without bringing home the most high-tech souvenir? More...
SHOWDOWN AT OSHKOSH?
Visitors to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh (July 25-31) may be able to
compare firsthand the frontrunners in the very light jet (VLJ)
competition. Eclipse plans to make a big entrance with a fully
finished type-conforming version of its long-awaited 500 and Cessna is
considering flying the prototype of its Mustang to the big show. Adam
Aircraft will also undoubtedly have its A700 proof-of-concept plane
there. The AdamJet made a big splash two years ago when it became the
first of any version of a VLJ to fly to Oshkosh, but the A700 program
has not yet produced a conforming airframe. More...
CONFIRMS BIG ORDER...
The Oshkosh announcement comes a couple of days after Eclipse released
details of an order for up to 300 VLJs to DayJet, a company that hopes
to start an on-demand charter service on the eastern seaboard. Eclipse
says it has more than 2,000 orders for the 500, which was originally
slated to begin delivery this year but was delayed due to a change in
engine supplier. Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn told reporters on Wednesday
the Pratt & Whitney Canada 610F-equipped 500 is a pleasure to fly,
although there are still a few developmental bugs to work out,
including improved longitudinal stability and better brakes.
Although it started three years after Eclipse went public with its VLJ
program, long-established Cessna appears to be catching up to start-up
Eclipse with the development of the Mustang. The prototype flew for the first time on April 23 and by
Wednesday it had flown at least twice more, said Cessna spokeswoman
Jessica Myers. Myers said the company hasn't decided to fly the
prototype to Oshkosh but it hasn't ruled it out, either. "It will
depend on where we are with the flight test program," she said. The
prototype will be used for aerodynamic and systems tests.
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After nearly five months on the ground, the T-34 Mentor fleet is
slowly finding its way back into the air. Thanks to a Herculean effort
by the T-34 Association
Inc., the FAA last week quietly granted owners a one-time 60-hour
period to fly their Mentors, pending a permanent fix for the latest
bout of spar cracking. Recall that a T-34 crashed in Texas on Dec. 7
after a center section spar gave way. Both occupants were killed. The
FAA immediately grounded the fleet and the T-34 group went to work on
a fix. To qualify for flight, each owner was required to compile a
detailed history of the airplane and to inspect the center spar
section for cracks around certain fasteners. Once approved, the flight
envelope will be restricted to zero through 2.5 Gs and 152 knots.
TAKES OFF AS DREAMLINER SALES SKYROCKET
The world's largest passenger plane lifted smoothly from Toulouse
Airport in France Wednesday, officially launching the highly polarized
battle between Airbus and Boeing over the future of air travel. Airbus
is gambling its massive A380, which flew for four hours on its maiden
flight, is the shape of things to come, promising greater comfort,
efficiency and lower fares. However, company officials weren't taking
any chances with safety on the first flight. Crew members all wore
parachutes and fire trucks lined the runway for the event, which drew
30,000 spectators. But while Airbus is claiming the PR high ground for
now, Boeing's vision of future flight, the 787 Dreamliner, earned some
pretty substantial votes of confidence on the order book earlier this
PILOT GETAWAYS MAGAZINE YOUR FLIGHT PLAN
Pilot Getaways magazine's March/April
issue lives up to it's "getaways" name with a romantic retreat to
Madden's Resort in Minnesota; outdoor delights in Colorado's Majestic
Mountains; a weekend getaway to Petit Jean, Arkansas; back-country
flying in the Garden State; fly-in dining in Hampton, New Hampshire;
and bush flying into the Flying M Ranch, Oregon. A subscription to
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A North Dakota aircraft maintenance company is reportedly still in
business even though it lost its FAA certification in 2004 and its
senior mechanic lost his A&P certificate earlier this year. In both
cases, according to multiple Associated Press stories published in the
Fargo Forum newspaper, the FAA determined that faulty maintenance,
compounded by falsified maintenance records on the part of Fargo Aero
Tech, led to potentially disastrous failures on two aircraft. In
the May 2004 incident, the tail rotor cable on a private helicopter
failed just after the pilot had landed. Inspection of the cable was to
have been part of the 100-hour inspection, which had been performed by
the company four hours previously. There's More...
FUEL TAX SUNSET REINSTATED
The Senate Finance Committee has fixed a legislative error and a
sunset clause on the tax on jet fuel has been reinstated. According to
the National Business Aviation Association, the taxation of jet fuel
was moved from one legislative section to another. During the move,
the clause ending the 21.8 cent-per-gallon tax on Sept. 30, 2007, was
inadvertently omitted. The sunset clause is now back on the books,
leaving only a 4.3 cent-per-gallon tax as permanent. Some operators
can also expect some small tax breaks thanks to amendments approved by
the committee. More...
JET READIES FOR FIRST FLIGHT
While the certification race for the very light jet market heats up,
there continues to be interest in homebuilt jets. Aerocomp showed off
its (six-foot-tall cabin) kit jet at Sun 'n Fun recently and now the
people behind ViperJet claim to be within days of the first
flight of their new offering. The ViperJet Mark II has four times the
power of the original ViperJet and Viper Aircraft spokesman Dan
Hanchette says the 3,000 pounds of thrust now available (from GE
J-85/CJ610 engines) should push the two-place plane to 500 mph with a
climb rate of 10,000 feet per minute. Test pilot Len Fox will
apparently find out for sure in the next week or so.
STUDENT PILOT TO TERRORIST SUSPECT TO FUGITIVE
We may never know exactly how commercial student Zayad Hajaig became a
fugitive terrorist suspect but the British national, with the help of
friends in the U.S., is now trying to assure American authorities that
he has no links to terrorist groups. "I am not a bloody terrorist,"
Hajaig is quoted in The Atlanta Constitution Journal as writing in an
e-mail to his friend Leonard Harris, who owns an Atlanta pilot shop.
Hajaig fled to London after federal authorities sought to question him
over allegations that he "became aggressive" with a flight instructor
in a bid to gain a commercial certificate. Authorities later found a
handgun and two rifles that he allegedly possessed illegally. Hajaig
and his U.S. friends claim it's a misunderstanding that went wildly
out of control. More...
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FLIGHT SAFETY INSPECTORS "UNQUALIFIED"
Some Greek flight safety inspectors are being asked to return about
$500,000 in salaries because they were not qualified for the job and
they already had full-time work in other areas of Greece's Civil
Aviation Authority. In fact, a study by the State Audit Council found
that the majority of flight safety inspectors were unqualified for the
job, which included random safety inspections of aircraft. Not
surprisingly, the report raised doubts about the safety of Greek-based
A Fort Wayne, Ind., airport granted unlimited life...
A top hang
gliding competitor died in competition last week...
host a French invasion (relatively speaking). More...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
DA40 DIAMOND STAR A FLEET FAVORITE
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
Say Again? #49: Come Up a Bad
A storm is brewing: Warm, wet air (increasing airline
traffic) is about to collide with cold, dry air (decreasing air
traffic controllers and FAA budget cutting) ... and the lightning
spark will be all the new GPS approaches. "Storm-Tracker" (and AVweb
columnist) Don Brown gives the forecast in this month's Say Again
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST twice monthly Business
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QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, AVweb wants to know if you're current in a taildragger.
PLUS: Results of last week's question on the continuing (?) boycott of
Chicago over the fate of Meigs Field. More...
PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
It's been a couple of weeks since Sun 'n Fun just enough time
for reader photos to start trickling in. You've seen our galleries;
now let's see what AVweb readers who were lucky enough to attend the
show sent us! More...
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|AVEMCO TEAMS WITH PILOT INSURANCE CENTER (PIC) TO OFFER
Avemco, the only direct writer of property
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|KITPLANES MAGAZINE TAKES THE SILENCE TWISTER OUT
Can we just come out and admit something? Flying is
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HAD NO IDEA THERE WAS THAT MUCH INFORMATION THAT I NEVER THOUGHT
heard of about flying. Not only does your book help
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|THOUGHT THAT USING GPS WOULD BE FUN, DIDN'T
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|PILOTS COMMENT AFTER READING IFR: A STRUCTURED
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