Number 38a — September 19, 2005|
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|This issue of AVweb's AVflash is
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The Top Headlines From
AVweb's Expanded, Illustrated News Coverage At AVweb's
RETIREES PAY PRICE FOR BANKRUPTCIES
It's business as usual at Delta and Northwest Airlines despite their
dramatic back-to-back bankruptcy filings on Wednesday and most
employees and passengers would notice little, if any, difference in
either operation. But for retired employees or the soon-to-be retired,
it's a different story. One of the principal benefits of bankruptcy
protection is the opportunity to ask a bankruptcy judge to allow the
airline to walk away from the company pension plan. United did it
earlier this year and some retirees saw their retirement incomes
chopped in half or more in the blink of an eye. In fact, according to
Air Transport World, the Northwest CEO admitted the airline filed for
Chapter 11 protection on Sept. 14 to avoid making a $65 million
pension fund payment on Sept. 15. Now the U.S. Pension Benefit
Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), which will likely be saddled with the
under-funded pensions -- it got United's -- is crying foul, saying
bankruptcy doesn't entitle the airlines to simply stop paying.
According to the PBGC, Delta's employees will fare better than
Northwest's, should those airlines obtain similar court permission to
dump their pension plans. Delta's pension plan is under-funded by
$10.6 billion and the PBGC would have to cover $8.4 billion of that,
meaning Delta retirees would face a 20-percent cut in their checks if
it were applied as a uniform cut across the board. Northwest's plan is
$5.9 billion in the hole but only $2.8 billion will be picked up by
PBGC, meaning the retired employees will absorb more than half the
loss. The rules governing PBGC payments are particularly hard on
pilots. Those who've already been there say it's not what they
expected (or planned for) out of retirement. More...
LENDERS LINE UP...
So, as Delta and Northwest get ready to walk away from their pension
responsibilities and leave creditors in the lurch you'd think it would
be difficult for them to borrow money. Not so. The country's most
powerful financiers are lining up to hand over billions to the
airlines to fund their emergence from bankruptcy. That's because they
can cut a special deal that guarantees they're first in line to see
their money return, stepping in front of others further down the queue
who stand to lose more if the deal goes sour. "The reality is the
lenders usually come out OK," Samuel Engel, a vice president with
aviation consultant Simat Helliesen and Eichner, told the Chicago
FUEL, SOUTHWEST REQUESTS NEW PLANE
Whenever something bad happens to the heritage carriers, Southwest is
usually held up as the example of how to run an airline. True,
Southwest is doing well but even the leader of low budget sees some
turbulence ahead. That's why CEO Gary Kelly was in Seattle last week
telling Boeing executives he needs a new plane. Not another 737 (he
already has 425 of them) -- a whole new air-travel-for-the-masses
aircraft that borrows technology from the 787 Dreamliner to make it
more efficient. "We are now facing energy prices that no airline can
make money at, at least with today's [ticket prices] so we're anxious
to partner with Boeing to find a successor aircraft," Kelly told The
Seattle Times. Southwest is riding out the fuel price spike better
than most thanks to some advance planning that will keep its costs
lower than other airlines for the next five years. More...
The long-awaited debut of Nemesis NXT in the Sport Class at the Reno
National Championship Air Races ended with pilot Jon Sharp
"maydaying out" on the first lap of the Gold final on Sunday. Darryl
Greenamyer, in a 600 h.p. Lancair Legacy came first with a speed of 364.9
mph followed by John Parker in the 700 h.p. Thunder
Mustang at 356.7 mph. An indication that the Nemesis team might be
on to something was Kevin Eldridge's third place finish in a Nemesis
NXT he calls Relentless. With a stock Lycoming TIO-540 putting out 350
h.p. at 343.1 mph. A vibration problem thought to be from an outer
gear door that has plagued the cutting edge kit racer prompted Sharp's
decision to bow out of Sunday's final. More...
WINS UNLIMITED AND JET CLASSES
And while the Sport class is heralded as the next big thing in air
racing, the sleek, composite kit planes still have a lot of work ahead
of them to overcome the sheer muscle of the Unlimiteds. The hugely
modified -- 4,000 hp -- Grumman Bearcat Rare Bear, with
John Penney in the cockpit, took the Gold final on Sunday with a speed
of 466.3 mph, more than 100 mph faster than Greenamyer's (600 hp)
Sport class time. Two Sea Furies rounded out the top three with Brian
Saunders guiding Dreadnought to a 448.8 mph second place and Stewart
Dawson's Spirit of Texas in third at 430.4 mph. More...
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BATTLE COMPUTER FOR CONTROL OF 777
Stanley Kubrick couldn't have scripted anything more eerie than the
real-life odyssey of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 that seemed
hell-bent on crashing itself on a trip from Perth to Kuala Lumpur last
Aug. 1. According to The Australian newspaper, the Malaysian flight
crew had to literally battle for control of the aircraft after
something went wonky with the computerized controls. The plane was
about an hour into the flight when it suddenly climbed 3,000 feet and
almost stalled. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau report said the
pilot was able to disconnect the autopilot and lower the nose to
prevent the stall but the autothrottles refused to disengage and when
the nose pitched down they increased power. More...
TO TRAIN MUSTANG OWNERS
Cessna's long-time training partner FlightSafety
International will provide initial type training for customers of
the new Mustang "personal" jet. FlightSafety will operate simulator
and classroom sessions at training centers in Wichita and Farnborough,
England. Cessna spokesman Roger Whyte said the large number of
European customers made the English center necessary. Each school will
have a motion-based Level D sim and avionics flight training devices.
After earning their type rating, Mustang pilots will spend some time
in the aircraft with FlightSafety instructors as part of a new
"mentoring" program specifically for the little jet's new owners.
Meanwhile, Eclipse Aviation has announced its very light jet (VLJ) has
passed FAA airframe static testing. More...
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HELPING THE CAUSE OF GENERAL AVIATION
A former flight instructor who allegedly thought that threatening to
crash a Piper Cherokee into New Zealand's tallest building was the way
to win back his estranged wife's heart is in hospital in Auckland,
N.Z., after a two-hour drama that ended Saturday with the Cherokee
crashing in the water 150 feet from a downtown beach. The man is being
accused of stealing the Cherokee from the Massey University School of
Aviation at Auckland's Ardmore Airport and telling air traffic
controllers he planned to crash it into the Sky Tower, a 1,000-foot building in downtown
Auckland. He reportedly told police his wife had left him and he
wanted her back. No one else was hurt in the incident but the
aircraft's low-level pass over the beach made an impression on
17-year-old Tortia Wilson and her friends. "We just wet ourselves,"
she told TV New Zealand. More...
REIMBURSED FOR FUEL CORRUPTION COSTS
Dade County will receive $2.5 million in damages and restitution to
help cover the costs of fuel thefts, inflated contractor bills and
various other forms of corruption that occurred at the Miami
International Airport's (MIA) fuel farm. Up to 30,000 gallon of jet
fuel per month were stolen and sold on the black market while the farm
was run by ASIG Miami, a subsidiary of Airport Services International
Group. According to the Miami Herald, ASIG's fuel farm supervisor took
part in some of the scams and is now a cooperating witness for the
prosecution. Eighteen people have been arrested and five companies are
facing criminal charges. More...
SIMULATOR CLUB FORMED
To his colleagues, he's Frank Ferrante, photocopier repairman. But on
weekends, he's Trapdoor, the flight leader of a flight of five F-14s
from the famed VF-103 Jolly Rogers squadron, yankin' and bankin' over
the desert expanses of Nellis Air Force Base. Or, at least what Nellis
looks like on the screens inside a nondescript industrial building in
Irvine, Calif. Ferrante and his friends are members of a flight
simulator club, getting their tech fix on hardware worthy of an Air
Force training center at Flightline Flight Simulation Center. For about $40
an hour, devotees can spend an hour in a simulated cockpit that
features flight controls made from the same molds as are used in
production of real F-15s. More...
AND GENERAL AVIATION'S ONGOING CONTRIBUTION
While Katrina is now a middle item, at best, on the evening news,
there is still much work to be done in the Gulf Coast area and GA
continues to do its share. While most of the GA activity involves
short hops into the affected areas with supplies and back out with
refugees, pilots have been contributing some long-haul services, too.
At least two pilots from Colorado Springs flew to Mississippi to pick
up relatives of local residents trapped by the storm. "I just cried. I
couldn't believe it. He did this out of the goodness of his heart,"
said Kimberly Akerlund after pilot Alan von Ahlefeldt delivered her
relatives from Crystal Springs, Miss., to Meadow Lake Airport near
Colorado Springs. But then, the selflessness of GA pilots has become a
common theme in the crisis and no one has been following it more
closely than AVweb. Click through for our comprehensive review. More...
NAA AND CELEBRATE AVIATION'S PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE|
a great time to join the National Aeronautic Association
(NAA), the nation's oldest aviation organization, marking their
100th anniversary in 2005! NAA membership is a terrific value for any
aviation enthusiast. With your membership, you will receive the
Smithsonian's Air & Space and NAA's Aero magazines, plus
access to aviation records, product discounts, and much more. Call NAA
at (703) 527-0226 to become a member of the NAA family, or sign up
online at http://www.avweb.com/sponsors/naa/avflash.
A UAV flew into Hurricane Ophelia last week for data...
released an AD for Lycoming Crankshafts...
South African airline
may face environmental sanctions for fuel dump. 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. You're a part
of our team ... often, the best part. More...
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ARTICLES AND FEATURES ON AVWEB
Katrina: The GA Response
Katrina left the Gulf Coast devastated, general-aviation aircraft and
pilots were there to help. AVweb reports on what has been done so far
and what else we can do.
What's New For
This month AVweb's survey of the latest products and
services for pilots, mechanics and aircraft owners brings you a pulse
oximeter, an aircraft security lock, a drill-powered aircraft tug and
FEEDBACK ON AVWEB'S NEWS COVERAGE AND FEATURE ARTICLES:
September 19, 2005
Reader mail this week about user fuel
prices, user fees, huricane relief and much more.
HAVE YOU SIGNED UP yet for AVweb's NO-COST twice monthly Business
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IN THE "SPOTLIGHT". Sign up today at http://www.avweb.com/profile/
The dangers of the double negative...
ATC: Did you get your numbers?
Airline: [Somewhat garbled] Negative.
ATC: Was it "Negative?"
Airline: [Again, rather garbled] Affirmative.
ATC: So ... "negative," or "affirmative?"
Airline: "Affirmative" for "negative..." [the other guy
in the cockpit can be heard chuckling in the background]
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|AVIDYNE AND RYAN JOIN FORCES TO SAVE YOU UP TO
In a joint promotion, Avidyne and Ryan
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|THANKS FOR THE MANY FANTASTIC COMMENTS AT ROD'S OSHKOSH
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|AVIATION SAFETY'S OCTOBER ISSUES
"Tomahawk Revisited" results of spin
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|ZD PUBLISHING INTRODUCES TWO NEW PILOT FRIENDLY
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