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Volume 11, Number 34a August 22, 2005

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

AOPA BATTLES USER FEES…
AOPA is repeating its mantra of "no user fees" as the FAA gathers stakeholder input on its next five-year plan. In a letter to the agency, AOPA maintains the so-called Flight Plan, which plots the agency's direction for the coming half decade, has taken a turn toward general aviation user fees, and President Phil Boyer clearly isn't happy about it. "The FAA should never forget that GA is a critical customer -- especially since the GA pilot is the only one who pays the bills out of his own pocket," Boyer said. He said that while the Flight Plan doesn't directly reference user fees, "it certainly lays the groundwork." More...

...KEEP AIRPORTS OPEN...
Although Blakey rarely misses a public opportunity to stress the agency's commitment to maintaining the system of airports throughout the country (she called it a "national treasure" at her Meet The Administrator session at EAA AirVenture), the fact is that rarely a day goes by that an airport somewhere isn't under intense pressure because of development, noise or perceived nuisance, safety or, more recently, security concerns. Although closures are still relatively rare, Boyer reminded the FAA that "keeping airports open and operating must continue to be a major role" of the agency. More...

...EXPAND SATELLITE NAVIGATION
As AVweb reported last week, Boyer took Russ Chew, the FAA's Chief Operating Officer, out for a spin in Boyer's Cessna 172. But it was more than a sightseeing trip. Boyer's Skyhawk is decked out in the latest GPS/WAAS gear for satellite-based precision approaches. In the Flight Plan comments, Boyer urges the addition of more GPS/WAAS approaches at GA airports to improve their utility and efficiency but noted that rules that were designed for major airports will prohibit many GA facilities (many of which don't have ground-based ILS equipment) from getting the GPS approaches. More...

BOSE OFFERS COMPLIMENTARY AEROSHELL® FLIGHT JACKET™
CLEANING KIT WITH HEADSET X PURCHASE

Through August 31, 2005, Bose will offer a complimentary AeroShell® Flight Jacket™ cleaning kit (a $99 value) when customers purchase a new Bose® Aviation Headset X. For all the details, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/bose/avflash.

HELIOS 737 SPECULATION, EVIDENCE…
A Helios Airways Boeing 737-300 full of unconscious or semiconscious crew and passengers ran out of fuel with a student pilot / flight attendant at the controls before crashing in Greece last week, according to a report in Flight International. The flight's cockpit voice recorder has been recovered (in pieces), but its contents have not been publicly disclosed. The magazine said it obtained an exclusive interview with Capt. Akrivos Tsolakis, the head of the Air Accident Investigation and Aviation Safety Board, who confirmed earlier reports that a male flight attendant, identified by a Macedonian news agency as Andreas Prodromou, who had a few hours of private pilot instruction, managed to take the plane off autopilot and begin a descent. If true, that might help explain the plane's final maneuvers, which included "a descent from 37,000 feet to 2,000 feet and then an ascent to 7,000 feet," according to a report from The Associated Press. More...

...RADIO PROBLEMS?...
One question that arises out of the flight-attendant-at-the-helm scenario is why that flight attendant, who apparently managed to disengage the autopilot, was unable to use the radio to call for help. In fact, one aviation expert interviewed by The Associated Press suggested the lack of communication was deliberate. "Someone knew how to work the airplane," said Paul Czysz. "Obviously he didn't want to contact the tower." However, the online version of a Bulgarian newspaper, Information Agency Focus, quoting an unnamed technician for Olympic Airlines, reported that there were radio problems with the plane. More...

...FUEL CONTAMINATION PROBED IN VENEZUELAN CRASH
The crash of a West Caribbean MD-82 last Tuesday in Venezuela seems a little more straightforward but it's not without its share of mystery. The pilots reported that both engines failed on the airliner, which went down in northern Venezuela on a flight from Panama to Martinique, killing all 160 people aboard. Officials are now wondering if fuel contamination was to blame for the flameout (there was plenty of fuel on board) and why, instead of gliding to earth, the plane hit the ground in a 7,000-fpm dive. Colombian officials who inspected the plane prior to the flight said it was airworthy. "It was a complete inspection and the aircraft was ready to fly," Col. Eduardo Montealegre, acting head of Colombia's Civil Aviation Department, told reporters. More...

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TWIN CITIES RELIEVERS UNDER PRESSURE
Possibly one of the most prominent examples of an urban airport system of reliever airports is under intense scrutiny, in no small part because the big airport's biggest customer is on the financial ropes. According to The Associated Press, Minneapolis's Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) is lifting every rock trying to find ways to cut expenses at six reliever airports that, by all accounts, do a remarkable job of keeping GA out of the way of the big iron at the MAC's big airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP). But even though they are credited with infusing $1.4 billion into the local economy, the little airports either lose money or barely break even and, partly at the urging of financially strapped Northwest Airlines that's caused fee increases and speculation that some of the airports might be closed. Northwest mechanics went on strike Friday, with union negotiator Jim Young saying the mechanics would rather see the airline go into bankruptcy than agree to Northwest's terms according to CBS news. More...

EAA HOPES TO SMOOTH SPORT PILOT TRANSITION
EAA is asking the FAA for some flexibility to smooth the transition of ultralight aircraft and pilots into the new Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft regime. As it stands, pilots who try to follow the rules could find themselves grounded for months because the system hasn't quite caught up to the demands that need to be placed on it. Of particular concern are the rules that apply to two-place ultralights and so-called "fat" ultralights. As it stands, planes must make the transition by Jan. 31, 2008, and pilots must be certificated by Jan. 31, 2007, if they want their flight experience counted while qualifying for the certificate. The problem is that once an airplane is registered, it must have an airworthiness certificate. Also, sport pilot flight tests must be done on registered aircraft. Because the system is so new, there aren't many Designated Airworthiness Representatives (DARs) or Sport Pilot Examiners to handle the initial influx. The U.S. Ultralight Association has asked for a two-year extension on both deadlines but EAA says there's a better way. More...

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NEW FLIGHT PLAN SUFFIXES COMING
If your airplane has some of the latest electronic gear, your flight-planning nomenclature is changing. Effective Sept. 1, 2005, the FAA is adopting several new suffixes to be used in identifying the navigation gear on board. The new designations apply specifically to RNAV and RVSM capabilities. There are also some significant changes to the definitions of certain suffixes that already exist. The FAA has published a table of the new suffixes and definition changes and it's important to note that the new suffixes should not be used until Sept. 1. A flight plan containing any of the unfamiliar letters will likely be rejected before that date. More...

BETTER VISION THROUGH SHADED CONTACTS?
If they can make a shortstop see the ball better off the hitter's bat, could Nike MAXSIGHT colored contact lenses help a pilot pick out potentially conflicting traffic or see the runway better on an ILS approach? The sports megalith, in conjunction with Bausch and Lomb, has developed contact lenses in both prescription and non-prescription formats that it claims help athletes perform better. Two "sports-specific" tints have been developed that are said to improve key aspects of vision on the field and court and, from the product description, it seems like they might help in the cockpit, too. More...

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PREDATORS LAND NEAR HOUSTON
Pilots in the Houston area are beginning to wonder what it will be like to share the airspace with a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles slated for deployment at Ellington Field. The Air Force has announced that 12 Predators will be based at Ellington as it prepares to take away the F-16s currently attached to the 14th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard. Ellington is in the middle of some pretty busy and complex airspace. It's actually within Houston's Class B and is seven miles from William P. Hobby Airport and 24 miles from George Bush Intercontinental. "I wonder how the UAVs will integrate with normal piloted traffic in this very busy airspace," inquired an AVweb reader who tipped us to the story. More...

PLANE FLIES TWO HOURS MISSING FIVE FEET OF WING
British officials are wondering how the pilot and passengers (including two aircraft mechanics) on board a Cessna 210 could fly the plane for two hours without realizing -- or expressing particular care -- that a five-foot section of one wing was missing. The unnamed pilot, from a community called Dozy (we couldn't make that up), apparently hit a tree on takeoff from an airport in Ireland on his way to deliver the mechanics to a broken Boeing 767 in Portugal. The collision took off more than a third of the wing, including a fuel tank. It wasn't until the plane ran low on fuel over the English Channel that the pilot realized something was wrong and made an emergency landing at Jersey International Airport. He recalled the takeoff collision but said he thought the plane had been "struck by a little bird." More...

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HIGH VOLTAGE POWERED 'CHUTE
Well, at least he had his seatbelt on. Powered parachute pilot Don Beatty, of Great Falls, Mt., dangled upside down from the seat of his machine for almost three hours on Saturday after the chute got tangled in a 230,000-volt power line near Great Falls. He was finally rescued by a crane after emergency crews scratched their heads for awhile on how best to get him down without killing him. The pilot said pilot error was the cause of the mishap. "I've been flying around here for seven years," Beatty said. "I just screwed up." He said he was watching combines harvest a field below when he flew into the line. He was tired and cramped but otherwise unhurt and declined an ambulance ride. More...

ON THE FLY...
Two U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds made airborne contact, Saturday...
Cessna CEO Jack Pelton named vice chairman of the GAMA...
Three Fla. officials aboard a Cessna that hit a turkey vulture...
An aviation high school is born in Riverside, Calif. More...

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. You're a part of our team ... often, the best part. More...

DON'T BUY AN AIRCRAFT WITHOUT CHECKING WITH CS&A'S INSURANCE PROS!
Check with CS&A's insurance professionals for complete insurance packages with the best coverage and prices in the industry. Get a no-cost quote from CS&A's top aviation professionals by calling (800) 761-2557, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/csa/avflash.

NEW ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
INSURANCE
Professional "Contract" Pilots -- Are You Protected?
Professional pilots are always covered by an aircraft owner's insurance, right? Well, if not, it's enough to be qualified under the open-pilot clause, right? Short answer: Nope. Read this article by the V.P. of an aviation insurance agency and then check the fine print on the insurance policy.

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WHAT'S NEW
What's New -- Products and Services for August 2005
This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you high-altitude training, an airplane cleaning kit, an extremely lightweight headset and much more.

More...

READER FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES:
AVmail: August 22, 2005
Reader mail this week about the price of avfuel, FAA rules on hangar rent, eminent domain and more. More...

ATTENTION, BARON AND CESSNA 310 OWNERS — NEWS FROM McCAULEY!
A new STC has been approved to McCauley Propeller Systems for installation of a new three-bladed propeller.  Replace your old threaded propellers with the new Blackmac propeller.  The Blackmac provides operators with an average weight savings of 10 pounds, longer TBOs, and fewer ADs than other propellers available today.  The Blackmac also comes with a standard three-year warranty.  For more information and an authorized service center near you, go to http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/mccauley/avflash.

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...

GAMI CUSTOMERS RAVE ABOUT A SMOOTHER RIDE AND SAVING FUEL
"The first ground runs were with the original injectors, then we installed the GAMIs. I didn't need the EDM 700 to tell me I had spent my money wisely. The motor is notably smoother and more responsive, with mixture totally controllable." "I put my GAMIs in my 470 and love them. I run LOP; couldn't before. My airplane uses less fuel on a trip than some SUVs!" Check out GAMIs for your airplane at Sun 'n Fun, or go online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/gami/avflash.

SHORT FINAL...
Identification by dialect...

While enjoying a chartered King Air flight, a fellow passenger and I were passing time trying to guess from what part of the country the crew originated. The conversation came to an abrupt end when we noticed one of the landing lights seemed to be shining oddly skyward,

Voice In The Cockpit: Look there, one landing light is possum huntin'.

My Friend: Deep south?

Me: I'll take that bet. More...

Sponsor News and Special Offers

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SEE WHAT ATC SEES — AND THEN SEE WHAT THEY DO WITH IT
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PHOTON'S WHITE FREEDOM MICRO NOW 2X BRIGHTER!
Photon, the first name in LED micro-lights, has a new product for your flying, hunting, and outdoor needs.  The white Freedom Micro, already one of the brightest micro-lights available, is now a full 2X brighter, making it hands-down the brightest single-LED keychain light in production! Order yours today and save!  SPECIAL: $10 off any Photon order of $75 or more at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/photon/avflash.
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SPONSOR NEWS
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COMING IN THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF LIGHT PLANE MAINTENANCE
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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 Russ Niles:
http://www.avweb.com/contact/authors.html#rniles
AVweb's editorial team: http://avweb.com/contact/authors.html.

Have a product or service to advertise on AVweb? A question on marketing? Send it to AVweb's sales team: mailto:sales@avweb.com.

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