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Volume 11, Number 18b May 5, 2005

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This issue of AVweb's AVflash is brought to you by ... LightSPEED Aviation

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

FAA: THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS UNSUSTAINABLE...
A congressional hearing yesterday explored the question of what to do about the ailing Aviation Trust Fund as the House Aviation Subcommittee began to examine options. The Fund, which supports airports and the airspace system as well as FAA operations, is suffering from a dwindling reserve (which could be gone by 2008). The law that authorized the current funding structure, which depends largely on an airline ticket tax, expires in 2007. (The future of the fund beyond that is now under discussion. No decision has yet been made to dissolve it.) "That [ticket-tax] approach will not sustain us into the future," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told the panel yesterday. "I see a need for fundamental change." More...

...THE FEE FACTOR...
"Tying fees to the cost of providing service protects both FAA and the customers who use FAA services," Blakey said. "We also believe that a cost-based revenue structure would provide incentives to our customers to use limited resources efficiently and to the FAA to operate efficiently, as stakeholder involvement can help us ensure that we are concentrating on services that the customer wants and is willing to pay for." But, Blakey said, those fees don't necessarily have to be user fees. "I want to be clear. I am not at this point advocating user fees, or endorsing new excise taxes, or urging debt financing, or seeking a bigger share of the General Fund." More...

...AMID SAFETY CONCERNS AND THE "BUREAUCRATIC NIGHTMARE"...
Considering that GA represents just 2 percent of the contributions to the Trust Fund, they were pretty well represented at yesterday's hearing. AOPA President Phil Boyer told the subcommittee that a user-fee system would denigrate safety. "A piecemeal system of fees and charges gives pilots a direct financial incentive to avoid using the safety features and programs provided within the National Airspace System," he said. National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President James Coyne told the committee that user fees could be more trouble than they're worth. "A system of user fees could add greater confusion and inefficiency to the air transportation system, cause a bureaucratic nightmare for both government and industry, jeopardize safety, and ultimately result in less revenue," he said. NBAA President Ed Bolen agreed, saying that the current fuel-tax system is fair and easy to use. More...

...WHILE NATCA URGES, LEAVE THINGS ALONE
Wait a minute.... according to National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Executive Vice President Ruth Marlin, there is no crisis in the Aviation Trust Fund. Marlin told the committee yesterday that "we should not underestimate the strength of the current FAA funding system and we should not tamper with it lightly. The Trust Fund is a stable and strong source of revenue. We should keep it that way by rejecting radical changes based on a manufactured 'crisis.' ... All indicators point to continued and future growth in Trust Fund revenues." NATCA maintains that the Trust Fund surpluses have provided a valuable source of stability, allowing aviation investment to continue through periods of brief decline. More...

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A PILOT'S EYES, INSTRUMENTS, AND LEARNING...
A new study at the University of Southern California suggests that the best way for pilots to train is to first learn on clear, low-clutter displays, which allow the eye to focus and quickly identify targets or patterns. When that training is followed by drills on "noisy," high-clutter displays, the eye quickly adapts. Research subjects who were trained in the opposite way -- starting with noisy displays then switching to simple ones -- didn't show the same progress. "That was a huge surprise to us," said researcher Zhong-Lin Lu. "Now you can simplify training a lot. ... High-noise training comes for free." More...

...COMING SOON, BIONIC VISION?
Meanwhile, scientists at Stanford University are having some success with experimental technology that would allow people with vision loss to "see" again. The technique involves implanting a chip into the retina. The chip receives signals from a video camera that is mounted on a pair of goggles. The chip bypasses damaged photo-receptors and allows the eye to detect direction of motion and perceive colors, contrast, and brightness levels. The Stanford design has the potential to achieve a visual acuity of 20/80, researchers say, which would provide functional vision for reading books and using the computer, but not enough for flying -- even a third-class medical requires 20/40 vision -- at least, not yet. More...

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VANTAGE JET LIVES AGAIN
The single-engine, very light Vantage jet, which was built by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites and flew way back in 1996, has been reborn. It's now morphed into a twin-engine very light jet (VLJ) living in Brazil. The original owners, Visionaire Corp., sank into bankruptcy with $35 million in debt. In 2003, Matt Eller of Eviation bought the company's assets for $441,000. Eller now has brought the prototype to Brazil, where former Embraer engineer Guido Pessotti is studying it and working to create a new, certifiable two-engine prototype called the EV-20 Vantage. The ambitious plans call for a roomy "air-limo" cabin that can seat up to eight passengers, offer a max speed of 436 knots, cruise at 51,000 feet, and take its first flight by December, aiming for joint Brazilian and U.S. certification in September 2006. More...

AGE 60: AGING PILOTS LOSE AGAIN
The long-running battle among professional pilots to rescind the FAA's "age-60 rule" met a major roadblock on Monday when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. A dozen pilots were trying to appeal a lower-court decision that the rule does not constitute age discrimination. The pilots argued that as long as they are competent and healthy they should be able to continue to fly. The effort had seemed to be gathering support recently when Southwest Airlines filed a "friend of the court" brief, arguing that the rule is arbitrary and deprives the airline of its most experienced pilots. Apparently the court was unmoved. More...

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NETJETS PILOTS PICKET SHAREHOLDERS
Over 70 NetJets pilots formed a picket line outside the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meeting in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday. The pilots passed out leaflets about their ongoing efforts to negotiate a contract with the fractional airline, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's conglomerate. "Our issues have seemingly fallen on deaf ears," pilot Alan Hayes said in a news release. "While all of these investors are enjoying the fruits of our labor, our pilots struggle to make ends meet." Hayes said that NetJets pilots, who are represented by the Teamsters union, are paid about half of the industry average compared to other pilots flying the same equipment. The pilots have been negotiating since 2001, when their last contract came up for renewal. More...

COMPOSITES RAISE QUESTIONS FOR A380
One-quarter of the huge new Airbus A380 will be built from various composites and advanced materials -- 22 percent carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, and 3 percent "glare," a glass fiber-aluminum laminate, which is being used for the first time on a civil airliner. These materials, and the expectations that their use will increase (Boeing's 787 will be built almost entirely of composites) and that more very large airliners will be built, has raised questions at the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). "We're concerned about the capability of operators to conduct non-destructive testing (NDT) of these materials," said Dave Hayes, of ALPA's A380 Project Team. "If you hit them with a catering truck, which happens all the time in the real world, what have you damaged?" More...

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A HAPPY ENDING FOR CALIFORNIA AIRPORT
It's pretty rare that we hear about a threatened airport, and then find out that the threat has subsided and all's well. But that's just what happened in Los Angeles County, when the Regional Planning Commission voted 4 to 1 on April 20 to retain Agua Dulce Airpark as a public-use airport. Some neighbors had asked that usage of the airport be restricted, and airport owner Barry Kirshner was prepared to accommodate them. Then he started to get reaction from the larger GA community, including the state Aeronautics Division, and realized that cutting off public access was not the answer. An FAA attorney told the commission that the county's proposed restrictions on the airpark would likely be pre-empted by federal law anyhow. "Today the commission recognized that Agua Dulce Airpark is a community asset and valuable resource," Kirshner said, after the vote. More...

ENGINE MONITOR DATA CHANGE UPSETS OWNERS
In the days of Internet forums, companies have to be careful about riling their customers -- those customers are likely to start chatting online, find other disgruntleds and build a crescendo of bad feeling. That seems to be what's happening with some users of JP Instruments' (JPI's) engine-monitor units. JPI has encoded the data output of its monitors so it can't be read by third-party software that owners would use to collect parameters and monitor the condition of their engines. Whether this is to protect itself liability-wise or to discourage competitors is unclear, but it has certainly made some customers unhappy. It seems the company is working on a fix, which may require a fee from users to translate the file format and perhaps leave those customers less than satisfied. More...

AVEMCO IS COMMITTED TO SAFETY — AND SAVINGS
Avemco's Safety Rewards Program allows pilots to improve their flying skills and reduce their insurance premiums at the same time.  By completing a course in the King Schools CD-ROM, Practical Risk Management series, and Avemco-approved recurrent training, pilots can receive up to 10% off their annual insurance premiums. Avemcodirect insurer of general aviation aircraft and pilots since 1961. For details about Avemco's Safety Rewards Program, and to discover how you can take to the sky with increased confidence, call (888) 241-7991, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avemco/avflash.

AIR RACE CLASSIC 2005 EXTENDS ENTRY DEADLINE
The Air Race Classic will launch this year from Purdue University, in Lafayette, Ind., on June 21. This annual cross-country race for women pilots, the only one of its kind, will cover more than 2,000 nautical miles. The round-robin route includes stops in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Ohio, and finally circles back to Indiana on June 24. Entries are limited to fixed-wing aircraft from 145 to 570 horsepower. Each airplane is flown by a team of two pilots, and is handicapped based on speed. There's some good news for procrastinators -- the entry deadline has been extended to May 8. More...

...AND A CORRECTION
A story in Monday's edition of AVweb said the FAA intends to dissolve the Airports and Airways Trust Fund at the end of the agency's current funding allocation in 2007. In fact, FAA spokesman Greg Martin told AVweb that the Trust Fund expires in 2007. The future of the fund beyond that is under discussion in the FAA and with stakeholders in the industry, and no decision has been made to dissolve it. More...

ON THE FLY...
Metroliner apparently exploded above New Zealand Tuesday, two died...
EAA Southwest Fly-In coming May 12-15 to Hondo Airport, Texas...
New 757s are no more, old ones are converting into freight haulers...
Hops & Props fundraiser for youth at EAA AirVenture Museum May 14...
ABC News to air a segment about legislation that would restrict NWS...
Gulfstream G150 made its first flight on Monday, in Israel...
The New York Times takes a look at medical airlifts...
An airliner in Japan landed on a closed runway on Friday. More...

AVIDYNE'S CMAX™ APPROACH CHARTS TAKE SITUATIONAL AWARENESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
CMax™ Approach Charts, which can be displayed on Avidyne's FlightMax EX500 or Entegra/EX5000 MFDs, provide geo-referenced approach charts and airport diagrams. CMax™ reduces the amount of paper in your cockpit, and allows you to access critical chart data more quickly and easily. CMax™ overlays your flight plan and aircraft position for optimum orientation. CMax™ even shows runway incursion hotspots and improves taxiway awareness, reducing the need for "progressives" at unfamiliar airports. With CMax™, you’ll know exactly where you are on the approach or on the field. http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/avidyne/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
SAFETY
Regional Accident Analysis: Know Your Local Risk Factors
Savvy pilots are always interested in learning how to avoid potential risks. However, most accident data is summarized on a national basis and may understate the risk of some factors in your local area. Max Trescott found profound differences in accident causes in the San Francisco Bay Area and explores how you can discover unique risks in your area.

WHAT'S NEW
What's New For May
This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you an adjustable LED emergency light, an experimental Light Sport Aircraft, visors, simulators and much 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...

TURN A CHECK FROM THE IRS INTO AN ILS OR GPS!
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AVWEB'S QUESTION OF THE WEEK ...
This week, AVweb wants to know what you think of all this talk of "user fees." Are you scared yet? PLUS: Results of last week's question on taildragger currency. More...

LAST CHANCE TO SIGN UP FOR MIKE BUSCH'S INDIANAPOLIS SEMINAR!
Mike advises that there's still space for a few more aircraft owners in his Savvy Owner Seminar in Indianapolis on the weekend of May 14-15. Additional seminars are scheduled in Frederick, MD (October 22-23) and Long Beach, CA (December 10-11). Mike's seminar will teach you how to have a safer, more reliable aircraft while saving thousands of dollars on maintenance costs. For seminar details and to reserve your spot, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/savvy/avflash.

AVWEB'S PICTURE OF THE WEEK ...
With Sun 'n Fun squarely behind us, the number of "Picture of the Week" submissions is beginning its steady summer climb — and we love it! Keep those photos coming; we need 'em to get in the proper summer spirit. This week's top prize — an official AVweb baseball cap — goes to Mark Wuennenberg of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Congratulations, Mark — just think of your new cap as a (very) late birthday present. More...

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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

SHOPPING DEALS  
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STOP WONDERING — OR WORRYING — WHERE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE!
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CFIs — DISCOVER THE SECRETS TO SUCCESS IN GREG BROWN'S CLASSIC BOOK
The Savvy Flight Instructor. You passed the challenging CFI checkride, but what about all those "other" flight instructing questions — how to recruit flight students; how to keep them flying; how to optimize your pass rate on checkrides; and how to get students to return for advanced ratings? Find the answers in The Savvy Flight Instructor by Greg Brown, AOPA Flight Training columnist and 2000 Flight Instructor of the Year. AVweb EXCLUSIVE: Order your personally autographed copy of the book at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/paperjet/avflash.
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SPONSOR NEWS
MODERNIZING YOUR KT76 DOESN'T GET ANY EASIER!
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THE SHORT STACK HAS ARRIVED AT POWER FLOW!
Power Flow Systems, manufacturers of tuned exhaust systems, has introduced a new "short stack" exhaust pipe for Skyhawks and Cardinals. The new STC'd short stack reduces the profile, weight, and drag of the original exhaust duct and is identical in length to original Cessna equipment. For more information on this and the tuned exhaust system right for your aircraft, go online to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/power/avflash.
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_____________________________________
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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

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:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#mgrady
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

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